Jerzy’s Story: Finding a base to achieve his dreams

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Jerzy is a young man with high aspirations. Born and raised in Gabon in Central Africa, he earned his Master’s Degree in business administration at City University of Seattle but struggled to find employment after graduation. However, his work with CityU’s ENACTUS team put him on our Employment Program’s radar screen.

Back in 2012 Jerzy worked with Rhonda Kopelli, our Director of Employment and Training, to create a business plan for the Millionair Club Charity’s new job readiness programs. In the meantime, he earned his Master’s Degree in business administration with an emphasis on sustainable business and graduated in July of 2014.

Unfortunately, Jerzy struggled to find employment after leaving school. He remembered the Millionair Club Charity’s employment program and decided to reach out for help.

“I went through the application process and I was put in the system. [Rhonda] found me the job at Diamond Parking,” Jerzy says.

Diamond Parking Services hired Jerzy full-time in January of 2015 as a valet. The job allows him to pay rent, buy groceries and take care of other living expenses. That doesn’t mean he’s done advancing his career, though. Jerzy still desires to work in his chosen field of study.

“Long term, I want to go into the environmental field and the green movement. I’m into marketing research, data analysis and marketing analysis. This is what I want to do,” he says.

Jerzy is actively sending out applications for jobs and internships in sustainable business. He understands the challenge of securing a job in today’s employment market, but in the meantime he’s thankful for the Millionair Club Charity and recommends our organization to people he encounters who are struggling to find work as he once was.

“Thanks to the Millionair Club, I’ve been able to find a job. I believe it helps me live and take care of myself and pursue my dreams,” Jerzy says. “I’m very passionate about the environment.”

Fierce fundraising results in new Shower and Laundry Center

CWL blog article photo

On Friday, May 8 hundreds of guests celebrated the city of Seattle’s spirit of philanthropy at the 31st annual Celebrity Waiters Luncheon fundraising event at the Olympic Fairmont Hotel. The theme of this year’s party was “Seattle Icons,” which included tables decorated to honor icons such as Pike Place Market, Seafair, Boeing, and of course, the Millionair Club Charity. A record-setting $632,000 was raised that day on behalf of our organization!

This was our third time being the beneficiary of this high energy event. What made this year particular special was the matching grant we received from the Harnish Foundation to upgrade our Shower and Laundry Center. Our goal was to raise at least $150,000 during the “Raise the Paddle” portion of the auction so we could ultimately get at least $300,000 for the upgrade project.

The good news? We got it! Beginning as soon as possible, we will begin construction to add more showers, sinks, washer and dryer machines, new air ducting and a laundry chute. We estimate we can triple our current capacity of helping more men and women become job-ready!

Watch a video about the Shower and Laundry Center:

We would like to thank the volunteers from Serve with Liberty, a community-oriented service program of Liberty Mutual, for handling many tasks on the day of the event. The following sponsors deserve recognition for their commitment to rebuilding lives in our region:

CWL 2015 sponsorship tree

 

Click here to see more photos from Celebrity Waiters Luncheon. Also, please remember to “like” them on Facebook.

KeyBank volunteers make a difference at our Kasota apartment building

KeyBank Seattle Market President Carol Nelson, right, presents a $20,000 check to Jim Miller, executive director of the Millionair Club Charity. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

KeyBank Seattle Market President Carol Nelson, right, presents a $20,000 check to Jim Miller, executive director of the Millionair Club Charity. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

On Wednesday, May 13 the Millionair Club Charity was privileged to have had seven enthusiastic volunteers serve our organization as part of KeyBank’s 25th annual Neighbors Make a Difference Day.

The volunteers cleaned, scrubbed and dusted rooms and hallways in our new Kasota apartment units. KeyBank Seattle Market President Carol Nelson also presented our organization with a generous $20,000 check to repair our electrical system in our main building.

“Our volunteer afternoon at the Millionair Club was our way of a saying ‘thank you’ to a valued nonprofit partner. Building a thriving community and breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty is a collective effort, and we’re happy to roll up our sleeves and help,” says Carol Nelson.

“Our employees have always been generous when it comes to personal volunteerism and philanthropy. Their collective effort on Neighbors Day is a source of pride,” she says.

The Kasota apartment building has seen dramatic changes over the past several months. Thanks to these delightful volunteers from KeyBank, the units are now one step closer to being rented out by our workers on a larger scale.

Volunteer Nancy Christenson cleans a hallway in the Kasota building. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

Volunteer Nancy Christenson cleans a hallway in the Kasota building. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

Volunteers Kathi Amis, left, and Karen Anderson, who both work in Key Private Bank's wealth management and nonprofit services, share a laugh while cleaning a room in the Kasota building. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

Volunteers Kathi Amis, left, and Karen Anderson, who both work in Key Private Bank’s wealth management and nonprofit services, share a laugh while cleaning a room in the Kasota building. (Photo by Dan DeLong)

Letter from the Executive Director

Jim Miller 1

Dear supporters of the Millionair Club Charity,

It is no exaggeration to say that supporters of the Millionair Club Charity in 2014 contributed to a historic year.

For the first time in Millionair Club Charity history, starting in September 2014, the employment program began operation as a temporary staffing agency — no cash allowed! Instead, all workers became “employees” of the Millionair Club, and are paid once a week by the Millionair Club. The great advantage to our workers is that they now have verifiable income that qualifies them for housing, health insurance, and other benefits. A weekly pay check also forces workers to learn how to budget their money – a life time skill!

This fundamental shift in our employment model injected huge positive energy into our program.

  • Just since September 1, contracts with companies like Sports Service — to staff Seahawks games at Century Link – have connected 80 workers to more than 9000 hours of work.
  • Trainings and business license certification have increased dramatically. Just since September, 341 workers took customer service training; 278 workers took safety OSHA training; and 123 workers received their food handlers permits.
  • In 2014, 75 of our 267 workers obtained permanent employment.
  • In 2014, 60 of our workers were placed in permanent housing last year.

And you can expect that 2015 will be another historic year: our Board of Directors is finalizing a strategic plan this month, and all of us look forward to implementing those results to strengthen our supportive employment program. I will also announce the leasing of a Belltown apartment building. Workers in our employment program will be able to rent a room in the building and live there for up to two years, with the requirement that they work each week. Having dependable access to housing for our workers is invaluable, and I believe, will greatly enhance their chance for employment success. You’ll hear more about this new enhancement of our employment program later this year.

Working in our community to rebuild the lives of men and women through jobs and other support services for 93 years has established the Millionair Club Charity with a solid reputation for a successful employment program. But I expect to continue building on that reputation and make our employment model even more effective for the people we serve.

Thank you for your support — and stand by for more invention and innovation in 2015.

Sincerely,

Jim Miller
Executive Director

Thank you for your support in 2014

We would like to thank our donors, supporters, partners and volunteers for contributing to the Millionair Club Charity and our mission to rebuilding the lives of men and women in greater Seattle. Please watch this short video made by our staff as our way of expressing our gratitude.

Without you, we could not help the hundreds of lives we touch every year through our jobs program, daily meals and support services. Every gift you make has a direct impact on the lives of the people we serve.

Thank you for your generous support! We look forward to what we can accomplish together in 2015.

Nowhere to turn: Steve’s story

Steve Kelly in the radio booth.

Steve Kelly in the radio booth.

For people living in Palm Springs who tune into KPTR 1450 AM from 4-6 p.m., Steve Kelly’s voice should sound familiar.

That’s because Steve hosts his own talk radio show down in the Palm Springs desert and serves as Program Director for KPTR and KPSI 920 AM. But before becoming a public media personality, Steve struggled with alcoholism.

Thanks to the help he received from the Millionair Club Charity, he was able to turn his life around.

“I moved to Seattle in 1990 with very little money and a drinking problem,” says Steve. “I worked out of the Millionair Club for ten months, including having Thanksgiving dinner here.”

Steve worked at several general labor and cleaning jobs before finally getting his life back in order. He says he’s been sober for 23 years.

“Even though I had an alcohol addiction, the Millionair Club Charity showed me kindness at the lowest point of my life. And I never forgot it,” Steve says.

When he’s not on the radio, Steve works as a freelance journalist. Some of his career highlights include covering the US Open in 2008 down in San Diego and broadcasting live from Ground Zero on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 through ABC. But through his highs and lows, Steve is especially thankful for the Millionair Club Charity for being there when he had nowhere else to go.

“I am so thankful for the Millionair Club. There are great people and great stories coming out of here,” Steve says.

Temporary staffing solutions provide new opportunities for our workers

A team of Millionair Club Charity workers at a recent event at Pike Place Market.

A team of Millionair Club Charity workers at a recent event at Pike Place Market.

If you ever find yourself at CenturyLink Field cheering on the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks or losing your voice rooting for the Seattle Sounders FC, odds are you will also meet several workers from the Millionair Club Charity.

Seattle Sportservice, a company that offers concession services to sporting venues, has recently hired more than 40 Millionair Club Charity workers to work on game days at CenturyLink Field in food service. In October a team of 21 workers worked at a Starbucks-led event at Pike Place Market.

Thanks to support from our donors, men and women in our employment program are getting work opportunities with many respected businesses in our region.

“By partnering with local companies who contract our temporary workforce for events, projects and peak workflow, the Millionair Club Charity is creating new pathways for our workers to gain the skills, experience and confidence needed to transition out of poverty and into full-time employment,” says Cary Calkins, director of business development.