Gary Gets a Fresh Start

St. Joseph the Worker has traditionally assisted disadvantaged job seekers only with permanent, full time employment. This has always been intentional on our part, as we work toward helping our clients achieve economic stability and try to provide them with the type of quality employment that will yield an opportunity for longer term growth and development. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge unemployment situation in which we currently find ourselves has prompted SJW to modify and broaden our scope. Currently, we strive to help in any and all ways that we can, supporting individuals, families and our economy to stabilize and rebuild. Therefore, we currently support all types of employment, including temporary and stop-gap work, which will allow an individual to start receiving a paycheck, even as they search for more stable and permanent employment. This is the situation for Gary, and he is grateful for it. His story is just beginning!

Recently released from incarceration and unable to pay the rent required at his halfway house, Gary was referred to the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) on the Human Services Campus (HSC). He says he is fine staying in the shelter for now because “these people really help.” And after being in jail and re-released into society with no money, no legal identification, and no friends or family to help support his success, that is exactly what Gary needs- help! With persistence and grace, Gary came to the HSC and was fortunate to get a shelter bed.

Next step – he needed to get replacement identification. Though it makes little sense, most people coming out of incarceration do not have personal identification upon release. Working with the Homeless ID project on Campus, he was able to get his Arizona ID.

Now, with shelter and legal identification, he came into SJW to find a job! We assisted Gary with job leads and got him set up with and interview at Surge Staffing for the following Thursday. Success! Gary got the job and he came into SJW to ring the bell! He was hired at HireQuest as part of their demolition team. His starting wage is $12.00/hour; his schedule is Monday through Thursday. It is a day labor position; thus, there are no employee benefits. But that is okay for now. This is a great start for Gary’s new life, moving him in the right direction, and allowing him to begin saving money so that he will be able to pay rent soon. SJW assisted Gary with appropriate work clothing and a Walmart voucher to purchase required work boots. We also provided Gary with a monthly bus pass to ensure he can reliably get to his job each day.

SJW and our Campus partners are happy to be here for Gary, providing the hand up that will help him be successful in very challenging circumstances. One of our most fundamental human needs is to be seen and to be understood; and SJW and our HSC partners “get it.” We understand where Gary is coming from, how hard he is trying, and just how difficult it is to overcome and succeed.

What does a job mean to Gary? His beautiful and heart felt response, “Stability. Dignity. And being able to share myself with the ones I love, because I am proud to be doing something good, so I don’t have to hide from them”  To Gary, who is trying so hard, our good thoughts, prayers and hope go with him, for continued success and ultimate independence.

We thank all of our community partners, our volunteers, those who have donated to put people back to work, our foundation funders and our corporate partners! It is only with your support, that our work happens. The success of each bell ringer is your success, and we are so very grateful! Thank you!