As we spend time on the streets the need for employment becomes more and more evident. As conversation takes place about needs to get off the streets, ‘a job’ is one of the answers most given. As I have conversations with people that are not marginalized in society and hear they are having a tough time finding a job, my heart breaks for my friends on the streets. Employment is such a missing component in the lives of our friends on the streets.
Dry Bones Denver talks a lot about not making ‘Just’ statements–just stop using drugs, just stop hanging out downtown, just get a job. “Just get a job” is probably the most heard statement concerning the homeless. But the situation is so much more complex than that. To get a job, one must have an ID. If you don’t have an ID, you have to bring in your birth certificate, and your social security card. If you don’t have either of those, it’s a very long process to get even one of them, so to get both seems like an eternity. As you try to navigate getting a Social Security card, you’re living on the streets, and life is hard, which sometimes prevents you from filling out paperwork or making phone calls that would expedite the process. Then, if you get one item you need, you have to keep it safe until you can get the second. So, if you go through all that work, then your backpack gets stolen you’re back at square one. So, that is the situation of many friends on the streets, or some combination of all those things.
So, say one of our friends has an ID. It still is not “just get a job”. Many friends have 1) a record for a past offense that disqualifies them from many jobs. If it does not immediately remove them from the running, it most certainly does not move them to the top of the list. 2) Many have little to no job history. No grocery store when they were 16, no paper route, no lawn mowing service. Nothing. Which, limits their references, and makes them appear lazy or unable to even get a job. These two factors combined with about 100 others make it difficult for our friends to obtain employment.
So, say one of our friends does get a job. It might be their first real job. Many of our friends don’t know the ins and outs of the work place–how to treat co-workers or customers; how to listen to your boss; the importance of punctuality and hygiene. Because of insufficient soft skills, many of our friends that obtain employment struggle to maintain employment.
Purple Door Coffee wants to address these issues. Dry Bones is already active in helping friends get IDs. We will provide the job for those who are seeking to move away from Street Life but cannot find employment. Belay Enterprise’s experience with career and life skills training will fuel our training of soft and hard skills alike.
We believe we are meeting a real need that has long term affects on the people that we will employ. Please pray for us, and join in the journey with us.