Nonprofit shredding business provides employment for special-ed youth

Deborah Knight Snyder

A new business in downtown Mansfield is helping out local youths while allowing people to shred documents and protect their privacy.

Mansfield Shredding Service, located at 174 N. Main St., is nonprofit and all green. It has been designed to fill a void: employment for some of Mansfield’s mentally challenged teenagers.

The operation is the brainchild of Mansfield resident Kathleen Harney, whose 18-year-old son, Patrick, is autistic.

The mentally challenged kids want to be productive members of the community, she said.

“They all want to work. Otherwise, they sit at home watching TV, looking at the walls,” she said. “For the past two years, I’ve been trying to find Patrick a job, but there are no places that will hire him. I even volunteered to pay for an assistant” but it was still no use.

The situation prompted Kathleen Harney to found a non-profit umbrella corporation, Mansfield Innovative and Development Services Inc., the mission of which is to start up small businesses and provide job skills training, business education and employment to mentally challenged students from Mansfield High School.

Patrick Harney has been part of Project Teammate, a program at the high school that allows special-education students to be tutored by their regular education peers.

Those Project Teammate students from MHS are the target beneficiaries for the new businesses that MIDS will strive to create.

“I want to help as many of these kids as we can. I want to create as many jobs as possible for them,” Kathleen Harney said.

Mansfield Shredding Service is the first such business to open. Kathleen Harney said she started with the shredding business because Patrick loves to shred.

“He kept asking me, ‘Mom, can I have a shredding business when I grow up?’” she recalled.