Jobs and Dignity for Homeless People
A day of volunteer work at a Boston soup kitchen changed Caitlin Gorski's life. The conversations she had that day forced the suburban teenager to reevaluate the preconceptions she had about homeless people. "I asked one guy what he was doing that day, and he said he was going to look for a job, which is what he does pretty much every day," says Caitlin. "That surprised me."
Inspired to help this man and others like him, Caitlin cooked up the idea of a job fair for the homeless. Getting started proved difficult. Shelters she called simply didn't have the resources to pull together an event of the magnitude Caitlin envisioned. Finally a call to Fred Smith at the St. Francis House in Boston got a positive response. In fact, Smith says his first thought was, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Caitlin now faced the task of finding companies to commit to the job fair in a sluggish economy. With creative networking and organizing, she managed to secure the participation of 15 companies, including Home Depot and Whole Foods Market.
The job fair, held on Boston's City Hall Plaza, brought together potential employers and some 1,000 job seekers. Prior to the fair, sponsoring social service agencies organized workshops on résumé writing and offered job counseling.
Caitlin feels that she will have succeeded if the fair helps 30 homeless people find employment. Perhaps just as important, Caitlin hopes the event, and the media attention it has drawn, will help change people's perceptions about the homeless.
Caitlin's project got the attention of YM magazine. Read the article!