In 1994, with the closure of Porirua Hospital, mental health consumers, their families/whanau, community services providers, culturally appropriate organisations and mental health professionals, formed a working party to determine where the gaps were in mental health services for people living in the Hutt Valley.
It was recognised that there were very few openings for people with severe and/or ongoing mental health needs, to return to paid employment, or regain the necessary confidence and skills to enter into paid employment.
A committee was formed and funding was sought from the then Health Funding Authority (HFA) and other sources, to develop a project providing employment to client/staff in the area of horticulture.
On April 6th 1995 Earthlink was formally registered as an Incorporated Society and in August of that year began providing paid employment to nine client/staff based in Lower Hutt. At that time Earthlink Inc. was the first organisation to provide paid employment on a full hourly rate (aligned to the minimum adult wage) to clients.
In August of 1997 Earthlink made the decision to expand into providing horticultural services in Upper Hutt. We followed the model of the original operation in Lower Hutt, while catering to consumer demand for horticultural workers and expanding client base.
In April 1998 Earthlink’s Administration and Upper Hutt Horticulture division were moved to Upper Hutt and the Lower Hutt Horticulture division moved to premises in NaeNae.
Due to the evolving needs of Earthlink’s clients and staff, and the identification of other areas within which Earthlink could serve the community, the organisation became an NZQA registered training provider in 2000.
In 2002 the Recycling to Retail project was launched. This project involved collecting items from the Silverstream landfill. After cleaning, refurbishment and electrical checks where necessary, those items were sold through the recycling division shop.
In 2005 the Recycling Shop moved to a dedicated facility at 24 Goodshed Road in Upper Hutt.
In 2010 after consultation with Maori, Pacific, health professionals and other community groups ,Earthlink established the Hutt Valley Regional Curtain Bank. The proven correlation between respiratory illness and inadequately curtained living environments evidenced the need for this service within our community. Our Curtain Bank is staffed entirely by dedicated community volunteers and stocked exclusively with donated curtains from local residents and businesses. “Community supporting community.”
In 2012, as part of a “Silver Lining” initiative, Hutt City Council facilitated discussion between Earthlink and a major provider of corporate uniforms, which led to a pilot project to recycle or repurpose end of life corporate apparel. The pilot phase focused on recovery of end of life uniforms from New Zealand Post and Kiwibank. A total of 40,200 garments were recovered from a number of businesses. Some 23 tonne that would ordinarily have been disposed of offshore, into landfill or by means of incineration – a significant and unacceptable carbon footprint. New Zealand disposes of 100,000 tonnes of textiles annually making textiles the fasted growing waste stream world wide
After the pilot project and with clear potential for future development, Earthlink applied to the Waste Minimisation Fund, through the Ministry of Environment and was successful in achieving funding support over a three year period aligned to performance milestones.
This project became an operational business unit of Earthlink in 2014 and will recover, repurpose or recycle a total of 100 tonnes of corporate apparel by April 2017.
Earthlink adopted a triple bottom line policy in 2010 – Performance is measured not just in financial terms but also includes social and environmental performance thus ensuring our core values are paramount in day to day decision making.
Notwithstanding this, it is always essential to ensure financial stability and Earthlink maintains a management structure that is conversant with financial accounts, budgeting and cash-flow planning. Earthlink’s governance board provides oversight and includes people with knowledge of cultural issues, financial, business and marketing strengths and consumers with understanding of our core values
Earthlink is contracted to the Hutt Valley District Health Board and Ministry of Social Development to provide support to clients, but has always remained mindful of the need to strive for financial viability, without dependency on government funding.