Donation Center: (541) 686-2366
ReUse Store: (541) 868-0904

About Us

We provide technology and job skills training to those with barriers to employment by accepting recycling donations, refurbishing the equipment, and putting it back into use in the community.

NextStep Recycling

Providing Employment and Keeping Electronic Waste Out of Landfills

Mission
Our mission is to provide technology and training to children and adults who have barriers to employment and education, while protecting our environment and community from hazardous waste.

Vision
Our vision is to be passionate people in service to the world through partnerships, education, training and environmental awareness. We support the education, job training, and placement programs we offer for youth graduating foster care, adults with disabilities, seniors, families leaving domestically violent relationships, migrant worker family members, and underfunded schools and nonprofits.

NextStep Recycling

Our Story

NextStep Recycling is a public, nonprofit community service organization that implements its three-part mission through focused efforts in Lane County, Oregon, other areas of the US, and internationally. We recycle electronic waste and work to keep it out of landfills while teaching people how to fix their broken electronics so they can be used again. NextStep also provides refurbished computers and free software to low-income families and needy individuals.

Since 1999, NextStep Recycling has been working to improve the environment and help those in need. We take donations of computers and other electronic devices, refurbish them, and put them back into the community. We also recycle over 2 million pounds of electronic waste each year. Our 10,000 volunteers have donated over 280,000 hours of service, and 5000 people have enhanced their employment marketability through our training programs.

NextStep Recycling

Our Founder

Lorraine, grew up in a family of 11 children. Her childhood was rough in a number of ways, including the fact that school was always a struggle. Very early on, Lorraine was labeled a special education child, and the combination of all these things resulted in her never believing she had any intelligence, that she could ever “be” anything—or even that she could compete on an equal footing with other people. She received a variety of mental health labels during her youth including, psychotic, schizophrenic, dissociative identity disorder, among others.

After 25 years of working class jobs, Lorraine was injured in a car accident and was forced to retrain. Her family urged her to try college. Lorraine resisted when she learned students had to use computers. The computer was a symbol of “what smart people” use—and this was a barrier to her understanding that she could be successful in school. During this time, Lorraine was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, which she reports was “one of the greatest moments in my life, it explained the world to me.” Suddenly, life made more sense. Before the diagnosis, “I spent years thinking I was stupid, inferior, and a danger to others.

When I was diagnosed autistic, I discovered my intelligence and capabilities. For that, I am forever grateful”. After additional prodding by her family, she enrolled in an adult education computer class to see if she could learn how to use a computer.

Lorraine was fortunate to have had a patient and supportive teacher and discovered that, like others who fall on the Autistic Spectrum, the computer was very friendly and a great communication tool. To her shock and amazement, Lorraine ended up graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Oregon, with a Bachelor's of Education degree in Family and Community Services.

Degree in hand, she went to work as a Social Service Specialist in the Oregon Department of Child Welfare in 2000, out of a desire to help children who were in situations similar to those in her own life. Because of her own struggles, Lorraine has always been determined to do whatever she could to make life easier for other children than it was for her growing up. Technology ended up being the tool she needed.

After her first computer died, Lorraine discovered she had a knack at fixing computers, and so she set about finding old ones, refurbishing them, and then gifting them to children and families who couldn’t afford to buy them—many of these recipients were the people with whom she was working at Child Welfare. She quickly discovered that demand, and need, was very high.

She found some other folks in her community who were interested in refurbishing computers and had the desire to address the digital divide, but not the means to find community members who needed access to technology. She brought the hobbyists, the geeks, and those who needed computers together.

In 2004 she took a giant leap: she quit her job and moved her little enterprise out of the garage into a real warehouse. Lorraine continued to work on building services and programs to address the needs of the community and today NextStep is a thriving community service organization with 33 employees, 10 volunteer ReUse Ambassadors, an ongoing group of Lane County Master Recyclers, and hundreds of volunteers.

NextStep now occupies over 35,000 square feet in two separate locations—much of which is used to offer free job training for community members. To date, NextStep has trained over 10,000 individuals, many who are on the autism spectrum. Lane County, OR has one of the highest autism rates in the nation – one in every 90 children are diagnosed as having autism in the community.

Lorraine has modeled her belief that everyone can participate in education and has gone on to earn her Masters in Social Work.

Lorraine continues to provide support and guidance to the organization she founded as a volunteer. Lorraine is a member of the DEQ Oregon E-Cycles workgroup and a City of Eugene Human Rights Commissioner. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Social Welfare Action Alliance. She is a member of the Kindtree Autism Productions - Autism Rocks Board of Directors as well as a member of the Better Eugene-Springfield Transit Board of Advisors. She is a past co-founder and Board Member of the GreenLane Sustainable Business Network, a member of the Lane Community College Computer Information Technology Advisory Committee, and is a proud Lane County Master Recycler. Lorraine is a passionate advocate for people on the autism spectrum, for trauma survivors, and for people who experience disabilities. Lorraine believes that all people are brilliant, no matter what label they carry, and should be treated with respect and dignity.

Watch Lorraine's story on YouTube

NextStep Recycling

Meet Our Team

Jessica Ahrenholtz

Executive Director

Cedric Rudd

NextStep Board President

Mary Ann Reilly

NextStep Board  Vice President

Alejandro Colmenero

Secretary

Judith Conrad

Treasurer

Sandi Patton

Board Member

Jacob Wyant

Board Member

Jann Mann

Board Member

Mike Grudzien

Board Member

Noelia Duncan

Board Member

NextStep Recycling

Awards

2020

Better Business Builder Award – NextStep Recycling – from the Springfield Chamber of Commerce

2017

Pillar of the Community – NextStep Recycling from Springfield Chamber of Commerce

2019

Community Leaders Together – Volunteer of the Year-Rick Tromel

2018

Association of Oregon Recyclers – Recycler of the Year

2017

The Philanthropist Award from Springfield Chamber of Commerce to Roy Nelson

2018

Association of Oregon Recyclers ‘Recycler of the Year’

2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Oregon Black Education Foundation ‘Supporting Student Success’

2017

Springfield Chambers of Commerce ‘Pillar of Community’

2013 and 2015

The Arc of Lane County ‘Community Partner Award

2012

Ethics in Business
For excellence in ethical business practices. Presented by Oregon Ethics in Business.

2012 L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Honoree
NextStep Recycling is pleased to announce that its founder, Lorraine Kerwood LMSW, has been honored as a 21012 Woman of Worth by L’Orèal Paris for her work with NextStep, an organization that provides technology literacy and job and social skills training to persons with disabilities and other marginalized populations.

2009
Lane County Commissioners Nonprofit Trash Buster of the Year
NextStep was awarded the Lane County Commissioners Nonprofit Trash Buster of the Year Award for Environmental Efforts.

Lane County Commissioners Individual TrashBusters Award for Environmental Efforts
Presented to Rick Tromel, NextStep Recycling Volunteer and Master Recycler

Eugene Weekly Best of Eugene Award
The Community voted, and NextStep was chosen as the Most Environmentally Friendly Business at the Best of Eugene Awards held at the McDonald Theatre on Oct 24, 2009. Mayor Kitty Piercy and Jaculynn Peterson from MyEugene.com gave the award to Lorraine Kerwood, Executive Director.

Register Guard Readers Choice Award for Most Environmentally Friendly Business
28,000 community members voted and selected NextStep Recycling for the 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards Most Environmentally Friendly Business!

E-Chievement Award
From massive river clean-ups to programs that help the homeless, from neighborhood activists to national and international social and environmental organizations, eTown takes pride in celebrating the success stories of ordinary citizens accomplishing extraordinary things.

About eTown
eTown is a community builder. By featuring diverse music and interviews, eTown creates a constantly expanding “community on the air.” Through the inspiring E-Chievement Awards, listeners all over the country are reminded that individual efforts really do make a difference.

2008

Employee of the Year, Lane Community College Cooperative Education Programs
NextStep Recycling was recognized as the 2008 Employee of the Year by the Lane Community College Cooperative Education programs.

Volvo for Life American HomeTown Hero Award for the Environment
The Volvo for Life Award is given to Kerwood for exemplary work, done through the creation of Eugene Oregon-based NextStep Recycling non-profit, in support of both the environment and a broad spectrum of underserved communities.

Lane Community College Distinguished Alumni Award
Awarded to Lorraine Kerwood, founder, and director of NextStep Recycling, a nonprofit that not only recycles computers and electronic equipment, but also distributes rebuilt computers locally and abroad. Started at Lane in 1987 taking adult education classes, then college credit classes, and participated in the Transitions to Success program for women.

NextStep Recycling

Affiliations

Reuse Alliance
Reuse Alliance
Reuse Alliance is building a community of like-minded individuals and organizations across the country that is revolutionizing the way we look at waste.

Oregon E-Cycles
Oregon E-Cycles
Oregon E-Cycles, Oregon’s free electronics recycling program, will become even more popular when the state’s disposal ban on computers, monitors, and televisions goes into effect on January 1, 2010.

Association of Oregon Recyclers
Association of Oregon Recyclers
The Association of Oregon Recyclers is a not-for-profit coalition of individuals, governments, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses committed to encouraging waste prevention and recycling in Oregon.

Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
For more than 100 years, the Eugene Chamber has been committed to meeting the local business community’s needs. Our 1,200 members share a commitment and passion for doing business in Eugene.

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce in Springfield is an active leader in promoting a healthy and prosperous community.

National Cristina Foundation
National Cristina Foundation
Founded in 1984, the National Cristina Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation that promotes technology reuse allowing people with disabilities, students at risk, and economically disadvantaged persons the opportunity, through training, to lead more independent and productive lives.

Emerald Valley Development Professionals
Emerald Valley Development Professionals
Emerald Valley Development Professionals is a professional association formed to advance the public interest and knowledge of fund development and to encourage the professional growth of members through the exchange of information, ideas, and promotion of educational programs statewide.

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