Mike gets a new job after COVID causes him to be homeless

For over 30 years, SJW has served the homeless and otherwise economically disadvantaged, removing their barriers to employment, and helping them find quality jobs.  As a direct result of COVID-19, the number of those who are experiencing homelessness for the first time is increasing. But SJW is here for everyone who has been forced out of jobs and into financial crisis as a result of this pandemic. Our singular focus is on getting those who need them most into jobs that will put them on a path to economic self-sufficiency. Today, SJW services are needed more than ever!

Originally from California, Mark relocated to Phoenix in January of this year (2020). Mark was able to land employment quickly with an auto glass company, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in late March, his employer was forced to shut down. He struggled to become re-employed; and having not even worked a full 90 days before being laid off, he was ineligible for unemployment. Staying with friends temporarily until his welcome wore out, and still unfamiliar with the Phoenix area, Mark began sleeping at bus stops. This was Mark’s first experience being homeless. Displaying the faith and positivity that is often observed in someone in crisis who is then able to overcome their obstacles, he believes God was by his side the whole time. One day he asked a random stranger if he happened to know of a place to find shelter. That stranger just happened to have once resided at the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). The gentleman gave Mark directions and he was able to get one of the few available shelter beds! Small miracles.

After being in CASS for two weeks, he found St. Joseph the Worker and our amazing employment team at the Human Service Campus, who helped Mark with a suiting (professional clothing) for his upcoming interview. On July 21st Mark was dressed to impress for an interview with Kelly Services, and he got the job! He came back to us to “ring the bell” celebrating his new job, and for transportation assistance (bus passes) and a pair of steel toed boots (required before he could begin working). He also proudly announced that, due to his experience, the end hiring company had already expressed interest in putting him into a full-time, permanent position after his probationary period. With SJW’s support, Mark had a great interview experience and is now ready and excited to start his new job! He will start saving his money immediately to move into his own apartment.

What does a job mean to Mark? “A job means everything – to survive.” And he adds, if I could have words for the next person experiencing struggles, I would say ‘Never Give up!’” This type of encouragement and inspiration never ceases to amaze me and help me to keep my own life in perspective. We wish Mark all the best! We will be checking in with him to see if SJW can provide additional employment support or resources in the coming weeks.