Give IT. Get IT. is the life’s work of our co-founders Chris and Jodi Martin.
After graduating from Kennebunk High School and studying Business Administration and Computer Science at the University of Southern Maine, Chris Martin moved to Seacoast New Hampshire in 1989 and worked in sales, management, IT and graphic design. A few years later, he met Jodi and soon after they married. At that time, Jodi was fully engaged in the same struggles that our get IT clients are trying to overcome. In addition to waitressing at the restaurant across the street from Chris’s office, Jodi worked 2-3 other jobs to make ends meet. She eventually started her own office catering business, where she learned the fundamentals of running a company.
In 1998, the couple moved to Stockton Springs, Maine, where Chris found an IT and graphic design job. As the person responsible for communicating between the company’s computer literate design team and the production team that had no computer experience, Chris saw a need to bridge the technical knowledge gap so all of his peers could work more effectively. After receiving permission from ownership to use the company’s outdated computers gathering dust in the corner of their warehouse, Chris gathered members of the production team to help him build new systems from the old computers. He then organized a 3-week training program where he taught his colleagues how to use the computers they helped create. Every employee who completed the 3-week program received one of the computers to bring home to advance their skills. The results were profound.
Co-workers who were either too intimidated to learn new computer skills or couldn’t afford one, developed the skills they needed to communicate better and produce better work. Several training program participants became supervisors, and some used their new skills to start their own businesses. A few years later, the tragic events of 9/11 brought Chris’s company to a standstill and forced its permanent closure. As the rest of the state reeled with the same economic struggles, Chris and Jodi faced an agonizing decision, either leave Maine again for more opportunities in a larger metropolitan area or find a different way to stay in Maine while providing for their family.
Chris’s thoughts immediately went to his co-workers and how their lives changed for the better after acquiring computers and the skills to use them. With Jodi’s encouragement and support, Chris stopped job-hunting, bought a copy of Non-profit Organizations for Dummies and got to work. Over the next 6 months in April 2002, with help from Jodi and several community-minded volunteers who loved the idea of this mission, the Information Technology Exchange registered as a 501(C)3 charitable non-profit corporation and the “PC’s for Maine digital literacy program” was born.
As the organization grew with thousands of computer donations coming in, so did the need for quality and real electronics recycling services for non-reusable computer donations. Chris created a second program in 2007 called E-Waste Alternatives and hired Ray Buker to help him build and operate the reuse and recycling processing facility in Waterville, Maine. E-Waste Alternatives allowed the organization to split its focus. Chris concentrated on providing high-quality data security and environmentally friendly recycling to attract more corporate donations of technology. Meanwhile, in Belfast, Maine, Jodi and her team handled the reuse and redistribution of computers to people in need, plus training and technical support delivery.
In 2014, SERI (Sustainable Electronics Recycling International) developed an international best practices standard for recycling electronics called R2 (Responsible Recycling). R2 aligned with E-Waste Alternative’s data security and environmental values so Chris and his team embarked on the exhaustive certification process. E-Waste Alternatives achieved R2 certification in 2015 (likely the first non-profit in the country to obtain this credential) and a new era of excellence began.
Large companies like IDEXX, Bangor Savings Bank, Systems Engineering and 200 others throughout Northern New England have since entrusted the organization to collect all their retired technology, secure and destroy data on the hard drives. All while protecting our environment and reusing devices to help people build their computer skills and digital equity.
In 2018, with help from the SBDC and Bangor Savings Bank, PC’s for Maine and E-Waste Alternatives were combined into a single organization in Waterville. The result is give IT. get IT., a single organization dedicated to encouraging businesses throughout New England to sustainably recycle their retired technology (AKA “give IT.”) so that people in need can “get IT.”
Having both organizations under one roof, within a day’s drive of northern Maine, Boston and all the cities and towns in between enables give IT. get IT. to provide the most credentialed, secure, environmentally friendly business tech security and recycling option throughout the Northeast
To date, give IT. get IT. has diverted more than 8 million pounds of corporate electronic ‘waste’ from the waste stream to benefit hundreds of community support and literacy organizations and tens of thousands of people throughout New England.