Help From Where You Least Expect It
“I don’t know what I’m going to do if I don’t find a better job; I might have to go back [to prison].”
Two months out of prison, Ray (name changed for anonymity) was explaining to me that he had reached the end of his rope. He had been struggling to find work that paid enough so that he could simply afford the basics. His part-time, minimum-wage job, just wasn’t cutting it. But, at least it was something.
Ray had the added complication of having to take custody of his son shortly after being released, meaning another mouth to feed when he could barely feed himself.
During his most desperate days after leaving prison, Ray said he was blessed to have the help of local church ministries who provided temporary housing for him and his son at a local extended stay hotel. He called GCO because that assistance was running out. He needed more help so he could remain at the extended stay but, more than that, Ray knew he had to solve the job problem to have any hope of getting off the hamster wheel he was on.
“I’m “clean” and have no intention of going back to that life.”
With a record that included drug and property crimes, Ray worried he might not have a shot at a better job. “But I’m willing to do any job that pays enough,” he assured me.
With those details in hand, our team started looking for the resources Ray needed and found some great opportunities for him and his son. There was a local church ministry offering help with additional days in the extended stay motel, there was the local restaurant eager to interview Ray for a better-paying job.
In the end, help came from a place Ray least expected it: the extended stay motel owner himself.
After hearing Ray’s story and observing him on the motel property, he offered Ray a job as a maintenance technician, a position that also included room and board on the motel property – an answer to Ray’s prayer for better pay and housing stability for him and his son.
The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.
Like Ray, you might be surprised the motel owner stepped in to help the way he did, but you shouldn’t be. Many times, our local business owners bridge the gap for those in need in big and small ways – from helping support the nonprofits that serve emergency needs to, like the motel owner did for Ray, helping directly.
Too often, it’s business owners who get the negative press and little credit for the good they do. In reality, as Ray’s story reminds us, they are a huge part of the solution to poverty – both in the jobs they provide through their risk-taking and in their philanthropy made possible through the profits they generate.
Is this the end of Ray’s story? I don’t think so. Ray seems to have a drive that’s going to keep him reaching for better opportunities and, of course, if we can help him, we’ll be here to do that.
The point is that Ray’s story isn’t unique. For those reaching out and seeking help – for housing, for work, for food – there are often caring community members willing to help.
And sometimes that help comes from the place you least expect it.
If you or someone you know is struggling to find employment in Gwinnett or is looking for help to meet their basic needs, please visit www.betterworkgwinnett.org to find resources or to be connected to one of our “guaranteed-interview” employment partners.