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Renton business funds worldwide volunteer efforts
Some kids and adults know him only as “Mr. Scrappy.”
“After they see me three or four times, they ask me what my name is because ‘Mr. Scrappy’s’ easy; it’s easy to remember and it’s catchy,” said Jeff Gaidjergis of Renton.
In the scrap collecting business for three years, Gaidjergis is using his funds to give back to society through humanitarian projects that take him all over the world.
Gaidjergis used to have a handy man service; but after he saw a lot of materials going to the dump that could be recycled instead, he decided to open a part-time scrap-metal collection business.
Now he’s grown his business 30 percent, he said, and works with his wife, kids and grandkids, as his only employees.
There’s no secret to where he gets his scrap metal; it’s just being fair and honest with his clients and educating them, he said. Most of his business he gets by word-of-mouth. He offers a free service traveling around to different homes and businesses to pick up materials.
Gaidjergis’ humanitarian work started nine years ago, when he traveled to Mexico to build homes for the poor. He’s gone on many trips with New Life Church of Renton. The church funds the projects and volunteers pay their own way.
In Mexico, they build 16- by 20-foot, wood-frame homes on cement slabs that help prevent the respiratory problems that come with sleeping on a dirt floor. The church group can build two to three homes in as many days. It’s a feat that would take the average person there seven to 10 years to build, said Gaidjergis.
“It’s important to me because we’re giving back,” he said. “It’s not all about taking, it’s about giving back.”
He travels two to three times a year and has been to Haiti, Africa, Honduras and Mexico on mission trips. He’s helped build homes, churches, schools, Bible colleges and has done well maintenance.
“We may go on a certain mission thinking we’re going to do a certain thing, but it’s wherever God calls us to go,” Gaidjergis said. “I tell people when they go on a mission trip they have to be like Gumby. You have to be flexible because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Gaidjergis has faced personal safety concerns, volatile weather and primitive airports and infrastructure on trips aboard to third world countries. But he is so moved by his experiences he finds it hard to explain how he feels.
He’s moved by the mother in Mexico who comes to find his group every time they’re in town to offer thanks. Money his church raised went to pay for an operation to correct her son’s club foot.
“It’s hard to put into words the feeling you get by doing that,” Gaidjergis said. “I wish more people could go along and get that feeling because then we’d have more people who’d give.”
His plans are to grow his scrap-metal business enough to sustain a full-time operation and fund three to four trips a year to do humanitarian work.
This year he plans to travel to Mexico for another mission trip and has promised to take one of his 10- year-old grandsons along to help. In August he plans to do more volunteer work in four African countries.
“I”m trying to grow this business so I can do more work in the humanitarian field,” said Gaidjergis. “So the more I grow this the more I can give back. That’s my main focus.”