202-737-9311 | info@thrivedc.org

"The more serious I got, the more people wanted to help me."

Two years ago Kennie Brown’s father passed away, and then he lost his job. He was staying with his cousin, but after Kennie started spiraling downwards his cousin kicked him out. He became homeless.

“He saw me drinking all the time, doing drugs, and he wasn’t having it. He kicked me out when he saw I wasn’t serious about getting my life together.”

It was a year of staying in and out of the 801 East homeless shelter before Kennie heard about Thrive DC. A friend of his at the shelter told him about the Real Opportunity program, how Thrive DC would pay a small stipend while they trained you to be a chef.

At first Kennie was only interested in the money part, but once he got in the program he started to see the kind of opportunity it was.

“Seeing how serious everyone else was made me serious. At first I wanted to be a part of the program for the money, but after I saw how valuable the experience could be I wanted the program for myself.”

Kennie was just one of three Real Opp trainees to make it through a grueling six month program. But it paid off. He now has a full-time job at Jamba Juice, has a steady place to stay with his brother and a friend, is living clean, and is less than two months away from having enough saved up to move into a place of his own and being financially sustainable.

“The more serious I got, the more people wanted to help me. My advice to people who want to join the Real Opp program is to take everything seriously. This program can make or break you, but if you can do it the right way, you can be a success story.”

Our Morning Program is aimed at providing our clients with fresh food, emergency groceries, personal care items, showers, laundry and mail.

Recently, American University students conducted an assessment on our male clients to get a better grasp of their needs and backgrounds. Not only has this report helped our team to further understand our clients but it has created a better awareness of DC homelessness for everyone.

To help you get a sense of who we work with, here are 5 things you should know about our clients.

1. About 1/3 of Our Homeless Speak Spanish

We are located in Columbia Heights, a region with a large Spanish population often overlooked when it comes to Spanish programs.

Wanting to address this growing issue, our bilingual Job Developer David Vicenty has implemented a Spanish Employment Workshops to help our Hispanic clients.

Twice a week, we provide two hours of working one-on-one with them to improve resumes, look for jobs online, and assist with completing job applications.

2. Almost Half Have Lived 5+ Years in DC

Despite DC being internationally recognized as a city with opportunities, DC’s homeless are growing and many are staying homeless.

Though we do provide a variety of programs to all of our clients, our mission is to prevent and end homelessness. That being said, this study is proving just how important it is to continue addressing an often neglected population.

3. Not All of Our Clients are Homeless

Actually, more than 30% are low-income individuals who are struggling to keep afloat. This can be especially difficult when buying groceries since healthy alternatives are often expensive.

Luckily, our Fresh Food Fridays provide a free farmer’s market for all of our clients. Therefore our place becomes a haven for many wanting vegetables, fruits, pasta and much more!

4. Our Clients KNOW They Have the Skills for a Job

In fact, 80% of our clients believe they have what it takes to land a job. However, many of them are currently not working yet and are looking for jobs.

We understand just how essential jobs are and help through our Employment Support and Real Opportunity Training Program. It’s through these programs that our clients are able to make a real change in their lives.

If you're interested in helping people find jobs, contact the Employment Specialist Jemahl Nixon at (202) 503-1521 or jemahl@thrivedc.org.

5. 60% of Our Clients Cannot Afford Public Transportation

Not being able to pay for transportation can be very hard to our clients since this often means they miss major appointments like going to the doctor or job interviews.

However, over one-third of our clients use tokens which allow for a free pass to board the Metro or Metrobus. Yet this continues to be an important issue. In order to help prevent homelessness, we have to provide those who cannot afford to use the Metro or bus the opportunities to get to job interviews.

How You Can Make a Difference

If you enjoyed getting an insightful look into who we serve and how we help, join the Thrive DC team either through volunteering or donating. To get started, contact our Community Relations Manager Greg Rockwell at 202-503-1528 or greg@thrivedc.org.

Click here to read more about the assessment.

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 addresses 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:

1525 Newton St NW
Washington, DC 20010
(202) 737-9311

Client Hours:
Tuesday - Friday
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Staff Hours: 
Monday – Friday
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
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