Christopher goes from unsheltered to employed

At SJW, we work with those that are the most challenging to employ – the homeless, those coming out of incarceration or in recovery from addiction, and those that are already struggling with extreme poverty and personal and familial need. There are many challenges and barriers that SJW helps clients to overcome so that they may become employed. But perhaps THE most difficult challenge faced is lack of housing or shelter options. Yet, as difficult as it is to maintain employment while being homeless, many of our clients persevere, nonetheless. We encourage and support these clients as much as we can, to help them maintain their employment while they search for more some level or shelter or housing. And we hope for the best, knowing that the lack of housing may be the thing that sets them up for failure even when they do get a job.

Christopher is currently staying in the S.O.S. Emergency Tents on 9th Avenue and Madison. Yes, you read that correctly – he is living in a tent on the street in the Phoenix Summer, with temperatures routinely over 105°F. He had been fortunate to have a shelter bed at the Central Arizona Shelter Services back in March, and with SJW’s help, got a job at that time.  But the COVID-19 pandemic quickly derailed his stable job and his ability to maintain stable housing. Despite the circumstances, Christopher didn’t give up! He routinely came to the triage table on Campus, where HSC Employment Specialist extraordinaire, Sue Medina, provided the job leads and encouragement, not to give up hope, and to stick with his job search.

Though living in a tent, Christopher got hired at a company called Trendwood, becoming a team member in their mill department: Mill 605 to be exact! He came into the office and rang the bell! St. Joseph the Worker assisted with the clothes and footwear needed for his job, as well providing as a 15-day bus pass to get him started. He started on June 3rd and works full-time, with a starting wage of $12.00/hour. It is a position that is eligible for employee benefits after a probationary period, and one with plenty of opportunities for overtime! Christopher will be able to start saving to get into his own apartment.

“What does a job mean to you?” we asked him. “The opportunity to re-enter society from homelessness and to maintain employment, no matter what life brings” he shared.

Clients like Christopher have both our admiration and our sympathy. To be trying to make a good impression at a new job while living in a tent on the streets in the 105+ degree heat is not for the faint of heart. But then again, Christopher, like so many of our clients, is no stranger to suffering and hardship. SJW is happy to be here for Christopher and the thousands of other struggling job seekers we help every year! And we thank YOU for making these successes a possibility! With your support, we are truly partners, “Transforming Lives through Employment” – one job at a time!