Hinkle said his hope for the future of the ReUse center is expansion. He would like to see the model replicated elsewhere, he said, and thinks ReUse could develop a training team to help others get started.
Cohen and other leaders at ReUse are already on the same page as Hinkle. While Cohen said they are interested in helping create and train new reuse centers, they already have a plan to expand their center located outside of downtown Ithaca on Elmira Road.
Robin Elliot, philanthropy coordinator for the center, said the ReUse team knew they would need more space even as they were moving into their new home in 2015. Even now, with space more than doubled from their Triphammer Road location, they have to turn down some large jobs, she said.
The center expansion is still in initial stages, but Elliot said it would involve building new floors onto the existing building. The first floor would become entirely retail space, moving offices onto the second floor.
There are also plans, Elliot said, to build apartments above that, which they would fill by partnering with other community organizations. Currently, they are in talks with Tompkins Community Action and Ithaca Housing Alliance. Elliot said they would most likely be apartments for disadvantage people or those recently released from prison, underscoring ReUse’s dedication to the community.
Nick Tabbel works to fix a CD player. Photo by Delaney Van Wey.
In keeping with their dedication to the environment, Elliot said they are going to make sure the new addition, as well as the surrounding grounds, is LEED certified. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification is the most widely accepted green building standard in the world. Although there are many requirements, including the possibility of tearing up the current parking lot, Elliot said it was worth it.
“It’s definitely the right thing to do and again a mission aligned for us,” Elliot said.
As for helping other people start reuse organizations, Cohen said they are interested in that, too. They already offer an online form that walks people through the necessary steps of starting a nonprofit, but Cohen said they have also talked with other counties that are interested.
This would magnify the impact of the ReUse Center, but for Cohen it has never been about that. She said she would be happy if she only ever helped one person, adding that her experiences with the program have already changed her for the better.
“If it’s one word, it’s transformation,” Cohen said. “I have been transformed through this job.”