It’s not easy for the homeless to find and maintain jobs. Most might say with frustration that they should just “get a job!” It’s not that easy. And if you’ve never been in their situation or tried working through how to get someone from that lifestyle, there are several issues they must overcome to find employment.
They can’t always locate a stable source for adequate hygiene. Transportation is rare if impossible to find, and they might have an iffy employment history.
Denver has come up with a brilliant solution to help it’s homeless. It doesn’t come without hard work and effort.
Denver Day Works was started two years ago by Denver Human services. Its simple, modest goal was to offer unskilled day-labor jobs to anyone and everyone who wanted to attempt them.
The tasks weren’t complicated. They included shoveling mulch, changing light bulbs, and aiding election offices. There was a catch. Organizers decided who would be invited back. They would only receive this invitation if they worked hard enough and earned it. The city provided the workers one free meal a day and $12 an hour pay. The results seemed encouraging.
Over 284 people worked for one day with 274 continuing forward. From those, 110 landed full-time jobs with private companies.
“What a refreshing idea to help tackle Denver’s homeless problem: Provide jobs with decent wages to those willing and able to work,” Mayor Michael Hancock originally said about the program.
However, Denver day Works has had its hiccups. Only 57 of the 110 managed to keep their jobs for more than three months. It has proven though that with hard work, you can improve your situation.
Take 57-year-old Jeffrey Maes. He once owned a remodeling business which he lost. He took his labor with Denver Day Works and gained full-time employment at the city’s Central Library branch. He credits the program for restoring his sense of purpose.
“When you take a good person [who’s] down, broken, discouraged, and you give them an opportunity to be proud of their self — to stand up and do something for their self — that’s one of the greatest gifts anybody can give to anybody,” he said. “And for that, I’d like to say thank you.”
I’m so happy for Maes. It took someone believing in him to make him again have faith in himself. Whether homeless or not, we all need a purpose and validation in life.