Second Chances

This October we celebrated 43 graduates at our annual Ceremony. All are the product of a second chance. But not every second chance works.

In the case of our Ready to Work graduates, a second chance is never wasted. On October 16, 2019 we honored people who seized opportunity to transform their lives taking no chance for-granted.

I am so very proud of each and every graduate.

Here’s my take on the power of a second chance.


Have you ever needed a second chance?

Think back to a time when things didn’t go your way and someone stepped up to help you. Perhaps a professor who let you re-take an exam; or a boss that gave you guidance instead of a red slip; or, a family member who gave you a loan to help you pay the rent so you wouldn’t fall short?

We all need second chances. But not all of us have the resources or relationships to get them.

“I searched all over looking for help, to find someone I could trust. At Ready to Work they empower everyone to find their purpose, to help you get back to what you want in life.” David D – Ready to Work Graduate

At Bridge House we believe in second chances. Our programs are guided by an unflappable conviction in the power of people to be successful when given the opportunity. We know meaningful employment coupled with housing and support is fundamental to address homelessness.

Our Ready to Work program is the only “work-first” model in Colorado focused on ending homelessness through employment.

And, Ready to Work works.

Ready to Work trainees have had the odds stacked against for a long time. Many are caught in a vicious, cycling tornado of homelessness, addiction, unemployment, and financial distress. This swirling perfect storm is damaging not only to them individually but to their family and the community around them.

Our unique intervention breaks that cycle. It works. 75% of the time.

David was a talented, respected Registered Nurse working in hospital setting for 12 years. He was happily married and a cancer survivor.

Then his addiction to opioids took hold. Slowly he began to miss shifts and receive warnings – then BOOM – he lost his license, his job, his housing and his family and, ultimately, his sense of purpose. He was lost. Disgraced, David had no hope or prospects. He experienced homelessness for 4 years – his former life a distant memory as he survived day to day on the streets. He looked for help but couldn’t find a place he could trust.

When David found Bridge House and Ready to Work all he could see for himself was the basics – a safe place to be, a job but not much more.

But we saw more. The Ready to Work team saw David’s potential. We appreciated his skills and his desire to get back on his feet.

As a Ready to Work trainee, for the first time in a while, David could trust those around him and believe in himself. “Day by day I believed I could do more, that I could get back to where I was before I experienced homelessness. I saw other people around me at Ready to Work having success and the staff believed I could too.”

At Ready to Work we have an insatiable drive to help our trainees not only survive but to excel. To leave the streets behind – not just for today or tomorrow but forever.

Our powerful combination of paid work, housing and supportive services gives second chances every day. No, not hand-outs, but real, tangible opportunities for people to change their lives. We provide them with the first step, that first hand-up, that initial chance and they take it from there.

Ready to Work starts with an open internship where adults experiencing homelessness are provided with a low-barrier chance to join. We measure motivation through attendance and aptitude for the program through some basic assessments.

When people join Ready to Work as a trainee they all must work in either our Outdoor Crew or Community Table Kitchen and live in our Ready to Work House. The program is structured yet every trainee experiences Ready to Work differently based on their own unique background, skills, capacities and challenges. This is the special sauce of Ready to Work. We provide the right mix of tangible resources and expectations of employment and housing, with a customized, individualized case management plan for each person.

This unique mix of supports is what fuels Ready to Work to strive for a 75% graduation rate each year.

This 75% represents an incredible return on investment. A person that has graduated with a full-time job, stable housing and who is able to support themselves long-term is an asset. Because of Ready to Work a person that you used to see on the corner or sleeping on a bench is now a contributing member of the community – the line cook at your favorite restaurant, the mason building your neighbor’s house, the lab tech at your doctor’s office.

David is a graduate of Ready to Work.

Now David has his Nursing license re-instated, he has a job in health care making over $30 an hour. He is passionate about helping others and has many goals for his future including mentoring other Ready to Work trainees. “We are all human. We are all going to experience difficulties beyond our control. Ready to Work gave me wings. Ready to Work doesn’t leave any part of you behind.”

Do you believe in second chances?

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