5 Businesses that are successfully employing the “Unemployable”

There are only a few things in this world we truly need to survive. Food, water, shelter, and clothing are the most obvious essentials. But how do we go about providing ourselves and our families with these necessities? Ah, that’s right — money. Those thin, little green pieces of paper that have the unnerving power to either make or break us. So, how do we go about getting
that money? The answer is obvious — jobs.

Meaningful and sustainable employment is key in creating and maintaining stability in this crazy world we live in. There are a number of factors that can play a part in burdening millions of people across the country with the risk of becoming homeless. Some of these factors include but are not limited to: underemployment, unemployment, and low wages. Not only that,
but people who do experience homelessness are faced with difficult obstacles when trying to find a job.

There is a solution to all of this however, and it all starts with business owners willing to create change within their companies and reach beyond the scope of those deemed “employable”vs. those who aren’t.

Here’s a look at five business who have tackled this issue head on and stand as a reminder to all that we have the ability to create change and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

1. Empowerment Plan — Detroit

This locally based nonprofit organization was founded in Detroit by Veronika Scott — a former student of The College for Creative Studies. Scott and her team hire single parents from local homeless shelters and provide them with training and full-time employment as seamstresses for their EMPWR Coat — a coat designed to fit the needs of those in the homeless community. In addition, their goal is that through this employment these workers can earn a stable income, find permanent and secure housing, and start getting back on track so that they can create and maintain a healthy, stable lifestyle. The Empowerment Plan has distributed 25,000 coats worldwide since 2012, and they’ve provided full-time employment to 45 previously homeless individuals. Notice how I said previously? That’s because all have now secured permanent housing for themselves and their families. In addition, within the Empowerment Plan was launched Maxwell Detroit– a clothing company that is introducing two new coats to the public. These clothing items are produced through the skilled hands of the same individuals that are hired to manufacture the EMPWR Coat. As Maxwell’s mission states, “When you put your coat on, you are wearing the story of someone who understands what hard work means.”

2. Sun Cedar — Kansas

This nonprofit organization out of Lawrence, Kansas was founded by recovering alcoholic Shine Adams. His mission is to provide employment to those who are faced with difficult obstacles when finding a stable job. Whether you’re homeless, a recovering addict, or reformed felon, Adams is willing to give anyone a chance because he believes everyone deserves their chance to find a job. At Sun Cedar, Adams and his crew use scrap wood to make natural products. Their most popular item is the car air freshener made out of actual cedar wood. With his mission in mind, Adams hopes that by giving more people work experience and allowing them to build their resumes, these people deemed “unemployable” by society will eventually be able to move forward into other careers.

3. Chrysalis — LA

Based out of Los Angeles, this nonprofit organization stands as the epitome of a mission-driven company. At Chrysalis, they are dedicated in helping homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and maintain employment in and around the LA County. Their focus is on empowering these individuals to complete a self-directed job search and providing them with the necessary tools so that they can succeed in the job market for the rest of their lives. As of 2016, they’ve helped 2,350 individuals land a secure job, and they’ve helped prepare 2,492 resumes. In addition, they provide these people with transitional jobs in street and building maintenance, janitorial, warehouse, and front desk work for over 100 communities and businesses across the LA County. For decades now, Chrysalis has continued to change the lives of thousands through employment.

4. Greyston Bakery — NYC

Everyone, at some point in their lifetime, has enjoyed a delectable spoonful of Ben and Jerry’s tasty ice cream. But who works behind the scenes to make those yummy brownie chunks we taste in our favorite flavors of B & J’s? Greyston Bakery, based out of New York, is the company to thank for that. Aside from making delicious treats, this $12 million company is known for its open-hiring policy. Bernie Glassman, the founder of Greyston, lived for a week at a time among the homeless people of New York back in the ’80s and ’90s. It was during this time, that he realized he could play a part in working to end the suffering that these people are faced with when trying to survive the streets.
Glassman accepts people off the streets, with no questions asked. In addition to providing jobs, this revolutionary bakery provides housing and childcare as well. Glassman and his company provides affordable housing to about 530 residents of Yonkers, New York, along with childcare for 130 children. Greyston Bakery is single-handedly changing the world one brownie at a time.

5. Well House — Grand Rapids

This final company’s mission is simple: to end homelessness one house at a time. Well House, another Michigan-based nonprofit organization out of Grand Rapids, provides safe, affordable housing to the homeless. Their goal is that through their work they’re able to provide homeless individuals with the stability and confidence needed to seek employment and move into more permanent housing. They find use in the things deemed “useless” in their community by purchasing vacant, boarded-up houses and bringing them back to life. This company takes homeless individuals off the streets or in emergency shelters and moves them into these homes. In addition, they take these tenants and hire them to help with the rehabilitation of the new houses they revitalize. As of January 2013, Well House owns 14 houses and has moved 191 people off of the street. While they realize that each individual has their own unique needs and challenges, and that having multiple people in one house can prove challenging, they’re providing a safe place for these people to reside and pushing them in the right direction to eventually get settled on their own feet.

Whether it’s through a sustainable coat or the making of brownies, each and every one of these organizations finds a way to be the change within their companies and their communities by providing the tools and skills needed to sustain employment in today’s world. All over the country, from Detroit to LA, these people are creating a workforce from a population that is
severely overlooked.

It’s simple — any one of use could wind up homeless when faced with the most
excruciating of circumstances. Homelessness should not be a life sentence, and these companies remind us that we can all do our part in providing a second chance for people who are just like
us.

Written by Mckenzi Roe

Social Streetwear brand from Detroit. Let’s Create Change. http://www.yorkproject.com