Company offers self-sufficiency, life choices to challenged individuals

It began five years ago with a small office shredder destroying a few hundred pounds of confidential materials. Today 'secure shred' processes 80 tons of paper each month.

The operation is a function of Opportunity Enterprises, a non profit social service agency serving 1700 clients in Northwest Indiana based in Valparaiso.

"Our mission is very straight forward. We provide self-sufficiency and life choices to challenged individuals," said Gary Mitchell, CEO of Opportunities Enterprises.

With pickup provided, nearly 500 customers use the shredding service. Among the clients are a bank, several hospitals and two casinos along with small offices and individuals.

A client for seven years, Jeff Qualizza deals with autism.

"It doesn't really bother me. I don't let it get to me. A lot of high functioning austics, a lot of people here do know I have a disability. They think I'm one of the staff," said Qualizza.

Along with the paper, hard drives get shredded as well.

"Instead of degauzing, which is the old way using magnetism to destroy the hard drive, or over-writing the hard drive, a lot of professionals say that is enough. So instead of retaining the hard drive and destroying the information we physically destroy the whole entire hard drive," said Robin Bisseker, operation manager of Opportunities Enterprises.

The shredded paper is baled up and shipped off to Wisconsin where it will be transformed into tissue.

"I've been in this business for 36 years now and it means everything, the same thing it means to you and I. It gives us a purpose in life. It gives us choice and it allows the people we serve to actually improve the quality of their life and be a true member of the community. That's what it's about," said Mitchell.

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