By Andrew Rocha
Downtown Stockton is a place that is thriving and improving almost everyday. There are, however, plenty of people that need help that will allow them to live their best life, specifically the homeless. Homelessness is an issue that impacts many in Stockton and it is often overlooked or ignored. In just the span of a few years, from 2013-2017, unsheltered homelessness increased by 115%. Fortunately, Ready to Work of San Joaquin County is helping homeless men earn an income, find employment, and get off the streets.
What is Ready to Work?
Ready to Work is a private, nonprofit organization that helps homeless men get back on their feet by providing emergency shelter, food, case management, transportation, and temporary work. Ready to Work focuses on providing aid to homeless men because single homeless men make up approximately 60% of homeless population. Most of these men are unable to find work for a couple different reasons. One, they are not in a stable position to seek or maintain employment; two, they have a spotty employment history; or three, they have a troubled past that is not attractive to employers.
That is why Ready to Work steps in to help those men find stability, employment, while also helping them develop soft and hard skills that are necessary for the workforce. After being in the program for at least 30 days, 100% of participants have increased their income.
Ready to Work finds employment for clients through different organizations and businesses. For example, the Downtown Stockton Alliance hires some of these clients and provides them with service hours for a temporary time. Sometimes is a full time position opens up, clients have a chance to obtain employment from the Downtown Stockton Alliance.
Just the Beginning
Active since July, Ready to Work has already helped over 60 clients. Despite the success they’ve experienced, there are still some obstacles that the organization has to overcome. One obstacle is transportation. It is not always easy to transport clients to work on a regular basis. Services like Lyft or Uber can be expensive and public transportation does not always work with individuals’ schedules. Another obstacle is that some clients make short sighted choices that hurt themselves in the long run. There are definitely some clients that have changed their habits overtime, but not everyone is able to improve. With time, Ready to Work hopes to be able to completely overcome these challenges so that they can help more men in the community.
Jon Mendelson, the executive director of Ready to Work, explained that the beauty of Ready to Work is that it provides clients with an opportunity to help themselves. Ready to Work lends a helping hand to men who want to improve their livelihoods. Clients are not forced to get a job and they go to work because that is what they want.
With the continued help of partners, Ready to Work of San Joaquin County will make a huge difference not just in the lives of homeless men, but in the entire community.