Hearts for the Homeless is a not-for-profit charitable organization, set up in 1990 to feed the homeless in Buffalo, New York. Over the years, the organization has expanded to include collecting textiles, textile recycling and selling lightly used clothes. In considering ways to help the organization scale and grow their collection activities, they turned to Enevo to see if we could help them use data to increase efficiency and support future growth.
We asked Hearts for the Homeless COO, Nicholas M. Calandra, if he’d be happy to share his experiences of working with Enevo as we felt other organizations might find this useful. We also think Hearts for the Homeless is a great example of an organization that is making a difference and improving people lives in the communities it serves. For us at Enevo, it’s great to be able to work with businesses like Hearts for the Homeless and help more people learn about their work.
Mr. Calandra explained that Hearts for the Homeless has a number of aspects to its’ work: “We give away meals and clothing for free to poor and homeless people in Buffalo, New York. To help support this work we run a thrift store where we sell lightly used clothing and we operate a wholesale and recycling business for the clothing we can’t use.”
“To collect donations we use outdoor textile recycling points across our community and at present we have 400 of these equipped with Enevo sensors and two collection trucks that collect from the sites. Before the Enevo system our trucks had fixed routes for each day and we had a bi-weekly cycle. These collection routes were based on geography and history of fill levels and we felt we did a good job with this.
When we implemented Enevo, we started with only a few sensors, then added some more to the collections containers that were furthest away from our depot as they were the hardest to tell what the real fill levels were. Now we’ve scaled up to 400 sensors and our collection points can be found at small businesses, churches, shopping plazas, gas stations – all kinds of locations.
We used to average 35-40% fill rates prior to using Enevo, and without the kind of data Enevo provides we had felt that the way we’d be doing things manually had been an efficient use of vehicle mileage or time. So, in the beginning, our focus was more on finding a solution that could help us maintain control and oversight of our containers as we scale our operations. In the beginning, we used to know all the containers and sites individually, but as we grew we needed a software tool to manage our collection network more efficiently. If we were to double our collections points, as an example, we couldn’t expect our staff to know the likely fill level of every container.
The fill level data has helped us create smarter routes but it’s also enabled us to move our fill levels up to around 80% and reduced overfill. So now, we're collecting more per vehicle trip and only collecting from a site when we know it’s nearly full. It’s a much more efficient use of our trucks and collection team.
Another welcome benefit for us in using Enevo is that when we speak to the owners of potential new collection locations, like local shops and businesses, we’ve been very impressed that we’re actually monitoring fill levels of containers with sensors and this is helping us expand our site base.
Enevo is helping us better monitor what we do, find efficiencies and the system will help us continue to scale up in the future. It will make it easier for us to add new geographies further away from our depot that would have been very difficult to do well without sensors monitoring fill levels. The Enevo solution has also provided us with data that can help us make stronger decisions about new container locations that would have been difficult previously. It’s also helping us optimize our current locations in that we can see if a container doesn’t get used enough to justify it continuing to be there.
We’ve loved working with Enevo since the beginning. We like the enthusiasm and the support we’ve seen from Enevo and we’ve also felt that the entire team are fully committed to helping us succeed with the solution”.