A few weeks ago one of our clients posted a video asking Thrive DC how we helped the homeless find jobs, and what kind of jobs people in our programs could expect help with. While everyone’s situation is different, our Employment Specialist Jemahl Nixon wrote the article below explaining how Thrive DC works to help our clients find sustainable, affirming employment.
Read to the end to find out how YOU can help our clients get back on their feet!
Employment Services for the Homeless
Over 200 individuals each year come to Thrive DC for help with employment. With only 1 full-time employment specialist, we help clients find jobs in retail, maintenance, driving positions, restaurant kitchens, and even office administration.
However there are often many barriers, beyond homelessness, that we need to address with our clients before they are ready for work.
One client came to us from the homeless shelter with few skills after working as a stay at home dad. Another had been homeless for over a year and had a hard time believing she could still make it on her own.
Our clients come to us with a range of skills and experience, but with each one we work one-on-one to address whatever is holding them back from a successful, sustainable life.
How Do We Address Client Barriers?
We do this partly through our Links program, connecting individuals to the resources they need. For clients without a high school degree we can send them to an adult education program. If a client needs computer training, we refer them to the DCPL library for free training or Byte Back, and if they need clothes for interviewing we provide credits to Martha’s Outfitters or Strive DC.
Caring for existing barriers while applying for employment is a major part of the Links program. It addresses the critical things that are needed to build a foundation for employment success.
What About Direct Employment?
Thrive also has two dynamic employment programs. The Real Opportunity culinary program encompasses a six month training to focus on soft and hard employment skills, hands on training, and a three month externship at a local restaurant. While in training clients also have the opportunity to prep and test for their Food Manager’s Certification. Throughout the entire program intensive case management is used to address the barriers trainees face as they work toward self sufficiency. Often clients are hired by the same restaurants they extern at.
The other is the Employment Assistance Program, a team based approach between the client and the employment specialist. This program consists of six weeks of employment coaching, job searching, and soft skill development workshops designed to strengthen and build on a person’s present and past work related experiences.
For any individual who decides to enter and successfully complete our employment programs, success has been a part of the results! Last year we helped 23 clients find full-time and part-times jobs around the city.
However, many clients do not or cannot complete our programs. Often it becomes discouraging when they cannot get hired immediately, when progress isn’t tangible, or when crises arise in their personal lives. Homelessness and poverty can be very volatile, and stability hard to achieve for our clients.
How Can I Help?
There are two ways we need help for our employment program:
- Be a partner organization! If you have the ability to hire staff, please contact Jemahl Nixon at [email protected]. We can work with you to find qualified employees who deserve a second chance. DC United in particular has been a great partner and has hired several clients from our employment training program.
- Volunteer! We need volunteers to run a monthly employment workshop, help clients with resumes, or work in the computer lab doing employment searches and resumes. If you can come in once an month Tues, Wed, or Thurs, we want to talk to you! Contact Greg Rockwell [email protected] for more information.