A little over a week ago, on December 12, 2012, our Ready to Work Program celebrated its one-year anniversary. This program has been instrumental in our mission to help Boulder’s homeless on the path to self-sufficiency. Since inception more than 20 people have been employed, 9 have graduated to mainstream jobs and 8 into housing.
The Ready to Work Program really is just that: it shows the clients and the employers to which they apply that they are ready to hold down a steady job and be part of a team. In order to be part of the Ready to Work Crew, you apply like you would for a regular job but are offered so much more. Once accepted, you become an intern volunteering serving meals at Bridge House, one day per week, until you become part of the crew. Once you are a member of the Ready to Work crew, you work 20 hours per week, Monday through Friday and earn a market wage.
Chad Carbone, the senior supervisor of the Ready to Work Crew and formerly homeless himself, believes that one of the biggest accomplishments of the program was landing contracts with the City of Boulder’s Parks and Recreation Department and their Parking Services Department, as well as a contract with Boulder Housing Partners in its first year. Most of the work is manual labor work—sweeping sidewalks, cleaning up parking garages, doing general maintenance and janitorial work—but the significance of the work is more than one would think.
“Depending on how long you’ve been homeless, your self esteem is really tarnished and you tell yourself that you can’t do it,” says Chad. “Applying for a mainstream job is not as easy as it is for people who have never been homeless and have never experienced that. Telling someone on the street to go get a job—it’s just not that easy.” The Ready to Work Program gives its crew members a way to earn an income, but it also shows them their own capabilities and builds their self-esteem while also building their work history.
One of the biggest successes of the program was one of the crew members who, after a 20 year history of drug addiction and homelessness, was able to land a job as an IT representative at major corporation here in Boulder. And Dennis, one of the supervisors of the Ready to Work Crew, was one of the original members of the first Ready to Work crews.
Looking toward its second year, Chad says that his wish for the Ready to Work Program for 2013 is to continue to have success with its current contracts and to expand to other contracts so that the program can continue to grow. If you are interested in joining with the Bridge House Ready to Work Program by hiring crew members or contracting with the program, please contact us.