In 1992, the group’s founder, Paulo César Félix, who is still its leader, decided to leave his life behind him to go and live in the streets among the least privileged members of society. Several years later, having acquired a house, he established Emmaus Arujá in São Paulo state.

Today, this living and working community's main area of activity is collecting wooden pallets from local businesses, obliged by law to recycle their waste. Each day, the Arujá companions set off in their vans to collect pallets, which they bring back to the community to be refurbished, then sold back to the same businesses. Some of the companions, who have been trained in woodwork, also use the pallets to build furniture to be sold. The funds raised from these activities allow the community to stay afloat and to provide support for local alcoholics.