An assumption is often made that being homeless is always linked to an addiction, a criminal record, or a mental disorder rendering a person unable to work. There have always been those who choose to live on the streets because of their inability to cope with society, but more recently, with the economic downturn, we have heard stories of people just down on their luck–laid off, bills too expensive–and honestly searching for work. Now they (and those trying to make a change in their lives) are competing with a different breed for the jobs they are going for–those with degrees and ample experience, with shiny resumes and honed skills in interviewing, searching for jobs they are overqualified for to be able to keep their own homes.
We began hosting monthly resume and interview workshops at Atlanta Mission in the fall of 2009 as a way to address this problem. Recently we have also begun offering similar job prep classes at Central Union Mission in Washington, D.C.
More recently, in Atlanta, we have been leading a Jobs for Life program at Redeemer Community Church. If you’re not familiar with the Jobs for Life curriculum, take a moment and check out this blog post. In short, this curriculum has allowed us to marry two things we so deeply value; relationship and practical help. We call it kinship. You see, each week a group of students paired up one-on-one with volunteers is being lead in discussions about the dignity that comes from work. Together they talk about soft-skills, overcoming personal and external roadblocks, resumes and interviews, and life in general. Once the students have graduated, the volunteers commit to continuing in relationship to help our students obtain and keep jobs. These classes take place in the spring and fall.