Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. (Matthew 4: 12-23)
It is a new year and we have a new chance. I take this seriously because I need another chance. I feel like I need so many chances, and I imagine you all feel that too. Every day I meet people who need another chance, someone to believe in them, to believe that they too could be successful and independent. It is easy to feel discouraged, but we can remedy that. We can all step up to give encouragement and support to our brothers and sisters this year.
There are many innovative programs in the archdiocese providing second chances, and Catholic Social Services is honored to be a part of them. We are a key partner in the Path to Independence project (P2I), along with Cook Inlet Housing, Weidner Apartments, and a long list of businesses and funders from around the state who believe in the intervention, including Wells Fargo, Conoco Phillips, the Rasmuson Foundation, and all the ANCSA Corporations. Path to Independence is a rental support and housing stabilization pilot program that employs rapid rehousing principles to move people in homelessness into permanent housing and connect them with employment. It is a model with much potential nationally for providing a pathway forward for homeless service agencies and landlords to work together. Most importantly, it is changing the lives of individuals and families for the better.
Let me share the story of one of our P2I households. It was a group of young adults, all under 24, who had grown up in homelessness. They were selected for Path 2 Independence and moved into an apartment.
Soon after moving in, their case manager Jesse let them know he would be by the next morning to escort them to a job fair. He asked them all to be ready at 8:30 a.m.
The following day Jesse arrived and one young man was prepared to go. Jesse and the young man attended the job fair and visited several booths. Jesse advised our client to inquire about the schedule and location of the jobs he applied for, so he would be able to show up on time and with a minimal commuting cost. The young man was offered a few interviews later that afternoon.
Jesse took him to JC Penney’s to buy a new shirt and tie for his interviews. The young man returned to the job fair, was interviewed and offered the first job he interviewed for. He was so proud.
On Jesse’s advice, he went to the other places he had been asked to interview and let them know he had taken other employment.
Jesse took the young man back to the apartment in the early evening. The other young men were waiting, and he told them about his day, and that he would be starting a new job in the following week. The others were congratulatory and envious. They cheered and asked Jesse when the next job fair was. I know next time, they won’t oversleep!
Sometimes, we all need a chance. That is what this young man needed, and that is what Path to Independence offers. A chance is something we all need and something you provide every time you give to Catholic Social Services.