“Individuals like you and programs like this play a crucial role in making a significant difference, serving as a reminder of our true importance. Despite the challenges, you stand as a beacon of hope in this seemingly hopeless world.”

The following is from Ryan Huff, COIC Employment Specialist:

In September last year, Kenneth attended the Bethlehem Inn Employment Workshop. He met shortly before class ended, and expressed need of an updated resume, and that that he has a meeting with an OED STEP provider on the following Thursday. For those that are unfamiliar, the STEP Program is the SNAP Training and Employment Program. This program is for people age 16 or older who have SNAP food benefits. OED oversees the program in our local area. The program includes one-on-one support, and may be able to cover the cost of training, textbooks, gas, bus tickets, housing and utility costs, child care, and work clothes. I encouraged Kenneth to also meet with me at Bethlehem Inn the following week to assist him in building a resume. We talked about some of the barriers he was facing with seeking employment, as he expressed feeling overwhelmed and defeated with finding work due to his barriers.

Despite being STEP eligible, he was denied by his step coach because Step was determined to not be the right fit. This greatly increased his level of frustration, so we discussed how we needed to proceed in order to get past this minor setback.

Kenneth had an extensive criminal history, history of addiction and mental health, was homeless, lost his job of 5 years at a gas station, no GED, no transportation other than his bicycle and the bus, and expressed that the weight of his situation was overwhelming, and the last thing he wanted to have happen was to go backwards.

We came up with a game plan. I helped him update his iMS Profile so we could start with getting an updated resume. This gave him a “ton” of confidence to see his employment accomplishments in a nicely organized document. We then discussed interview essentials, and we talked about places to consider applying, and how to address questions about his background if and when that came up. He was “recharged” and ready to look for work. We then talked about his GED because this was important to him. He was close, and only needed a couple classes. I provided him the class schedule for the COCC Alternative Education program, and he showed up the very next day for class.

A few days later, I met Kenneth in person. He reported he received a job offer for a position in the deli department at Bend Winco. He also reported to me that he has moved from the Bethlehem Inn in Bend, to the Oxford House in Redmond. He was thrilled to get a job offer so quickly, and planned to take the bus from Redmond to work. He reported to me that he desperately needed clothing in order to start his new job, so reviewed with my supervisor Dana, and was able to get approval to assist with his clothing needs.

Shortly after starting his new job, Kenneth let me know that he was unfortunately unable to start his job at Winco. He worked one day, but after discussing his schedule needs with the employer, it was determined that realistically it wasn’t a good fit for him at this moment, so he left on good terms and was given the option of returning if, and when he is able to move back to Bend. The bus schedule wasn’t going to work for him to get from Redmond to Bend. Fortunately, in the process of all of this, Kenneth applied for a material mover position at BasX in Redmond, and received a job offer. The schedule was flexible around his mandatory appointments, and he didn’t have to worry about transportation. He started full time, at $20.35 per hour.

Months later, Kenneth and I still contact each other. Recently, he showed up randomly on one of his days off at my office. He wanted to let me know that things are going GREAT! He is doing well in his new role, getting lots of hours, and has received a pay rase to $25 an hour. His sobriety is going amazing, his housing is stable, and he said that he is feeling better than ever with how things are going in his life. He had a recent court appointment, and because of the progress and transformation he has made, he was granted “significant” leniency by the judge, so he couldn’t be more grateful.

In closing, Kenneth told me that I probably know more about him than most of the people he knows. He said that he feels like the experience helping with his resume, and our talks about how to navigate and address his background gave him the confidence and encouragement to be successful.

I informed him of my desire to share his success, and he expressed great enthusiasm about it! Kenneth conveyed his honor and explicitly mentioned that he ‘wanted’ me to share the story with others. He urged me to freely discuss the journey, starting from the challenges he faced, his struggle with addiction, entering inpatient care, and eventually finding support at Bethlehem Inn through our program. Kenneth emphasized the significance of societal programs and the compassion of individuals.

He has granted permission to share this information, emphasizing that it can inspire others to see that positive change is achievable through effort. Kenneth deeply appreciates the dedication in spending time on this cause. He said, “Individuals like you and programs like this play a crucial role in making a significant difference, serving as a reminder of our true importance. Despite the challenges, you stand as a beacon of hope in this seemingly hopeless world.”

Our collaboration continues, and Kenneth still plans to pursue getting his GED. His story is a testament to resilience and success, and I look forward to further supporting him.