On January 17th, 2014 Michael regained consciousness in the middle of the street. He couldn’t remember how he got there and was weighed down by a feeling of heaviness that wouldn’t let him up. Eventually, a friendly police officer helped him off the ground and told him he was bleeding heavily from the head. Michael looked down into the palm of his hand, saw his blood mixing in with the rain coming down, and realized at that moment he was done with that life.
Michael joined AA, found a sponsor and started going to church. He found shelter at the Everett Gospel Mission and connected with an employment specialist at Housing Hope who recommended GroundWorks as a path to reenter the workforce. Michael has a diverse work history, including farmwork, welding and house cleaning, but he has a particular passion for gardening and landscaping, which made GroundWorks a great fit.
During his internship Michael quickly became an integral part of the GroundWorks team. He was eager to learn, never late to work and always had a positive attitude. Speaking about his internship Michael reflected: “I’m not perfect, I make mistakes every day…but I love this company, I love the fact that they gave me a chance to work. I’m part of the team now”. GroundWorks had a job opening near the completion of Michael’s internship and leapt at the opportunity to hire him as a permanent employee.
Abused as a child and abandoned at an orphanage at the age of 9, Michael had been living on the streets since the age of 19. Today Michael has a place of his own for the first time in his life. His health is better and he has quit smoking cigarettes: “I have a freedom today…I am so glad that I don’t have to survive like that anymore. Because it’s tough not knowing where you are going to lay your head…Anybody can be homeless. [GroundWorks] is a great opportunity for anybody that wants to turn their life around.”
7 months before Sergey’s internship, he was living on the streets. Despite a background in landscaping, carpentry and construction, Sergey faced a variety of barriers which prevented him from finding work. He found housing for himself and his two kids at Housing Hope and connected with an Employment Specialist there who recommended the GroundWorks Internship Program as a way to reenter the workforce.
Sergey said he learned a lot during his internship here at GroundWorks. He spoke highly of GroundWorks: “GroundWorks is awesome. It helped me out in just three months when I needed it….I learned a lot, the team is awesome.” Sergey was a huge asset to the GroundWorks team largely due to his strong work ethic.
Now that Sergey’s internship has ended he is going back to school to learn to read and write. After that he plans to find work; “I like working. Doesn’t matter what job it is, I will do it”.
In July 2014 O’Rian was a single father of a 9 year-old daughter. He was getting housing support through Catholic Community Services and other support through DSHS, but his time was running out with CCS as he had not been able to find a job in 6 months. He was introduced to an employment specialist for Housing Hope who put him into the Housing Hope life skills classes. From there O’Rian interviewed for an internship at GroundWorks Landscaping and started shortly afterwards.
“I wanted to prove myself and work hard,” O’Rian said about his internship with GroundWorks. “I was willing to learn and I hadn’t worked in so long I wanted to show someone I was a hard worker.”
O’Rian learned a lot during his internship, he lost a lot of weight, and his confidence went way up. He said he never had a job that boosted his self-esteem, and that has helped him outside of work also. He was proud when he earned his certificate of completion at the end of his internship as he could say he earned it from his hard work.
When O’Rian’s internship ended he was hired on as part of the crew at GroundWorks and now is a full-time employee. O’Rian said he is excited because he really likes the people he works with, Housing Hope and HopeWorks, and what the agencies stand for. He also said it is the first time he has had a job with benefits and paid sick time. He is now off DSHS support and taking care of his daughter all by himself.
“My daughter sees me in a whole new light,” he said. “I wanted a hand up, not a hand out, and that is what I got here.”