“You let me move forward with dignity and independence,” Kathleen said as she looked out onto a room of coworkers and mentors on Friday. “I didn’t have to grovel or borrow money. I could earn my own. And that made all the difference.”
Kathleen’s eyes filled with tears as she spoke. She wasn’t the only one.
The occasion was the weekly graduation of Millionair Club Charity’s STEP job training program. This series of trainings and workshops helps our clients develop the skills and confidence they need to get—and keep—stable jobs that pay a decent wage.
Like so many people, Kathleen and her husband never thought they would ever find themselves “homeless.” King County’s boom economy is a sharp contrast to many parts of the state, where there is no end in sight to the Great Recession.
Kathleen came to Seattle from Long Beach, WA, where her elderly parents still live. Even though she desperately wanted to work, “there were no jobs there,” she says.
After arriving in Seattle with $600 savings, her car got towed. “I was down to my last $300. We ended up sleeping in a ‘tent city’ for a while.”
Both she and her husband were hard workers with a stable work history. They had excellent recommendations. They were even keeping up on mortgage payments for a home they no longer lived in due to a lack of employment in that area.
After entering our program, Kathleen found a job she especially enjoyed—working for the Midtown Improvement District (MID) as a “Downtown Ambassador.”
“Kathleen is always ready to lend a hand and a warm smile, and has a natural way of making people’s day brighter,” says Pamela Elessa, Millionair Club Charity’s director of programs. “She’s just a pleasant person to be around.”
The job Kathleen was placed in by “the Club” let her use her natural ability to connect with people from all backgrounds, from foreign tourists looking for Pike Place Market to helping people in need find food, shelter, and other services. Best of all, she does this while earning a steady paycheck.
“When I first got the job, I was 70 pounds overweight and living in a tent city,” she told the room of colleagues and mentors. “I was not feeling great about myself. But working outside and with people—it helped me more than you’ll ever know.”
“Thank you for giving me this gift.” Kathleen said. “The gift of a job and a means to support myself. It’s the best gift you can give.”