David and Margaret
At BRC we know that a job is more than just a paycheck: it raises confidence and self-worth, provides an outlet for productivity, and contributes to one's identity. Take David, whose story shows that a job is a path to a better life and further education, and Margaret, whose work at a hospital gives her life meaning and reminds her how lucky she is to be healthy. These are their stories.
Twenty-eight year old David grew up in New York City with his parents and two brothers. After graduating high school, he held jobs in sales and maintenance, but he was drawn to drug dealing by the promise of quick cash. Pretty soon, he was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to four years in prison. While incarcerated, David realized that he needed to change his life's path. He vowed to go to college and get a job upon his release. But by the time he was released from prison in 2006, his family had moved out of New York, and under his parole conditions, David could not join them. He had no place to go except for the city's shelter system, which referred him to BRC's Palace Employment Residence.
At BRC, David worked with the Horizons Workforce Development program and quickly completed job readiness workshops and the internship program. Soon, he landed a job working as a 311 Operator and earning $11 an hour. He also took classes and is now certified to be a tax preparer. These jobs are stepping stones for him to achieve greater goals: David aspires to earn a Bachelors degree from a four-year university and have a steady career in skilled construction. With two jobs and a 4.0 GPA at Interboro College to maintain, David is a very busy man. But he is also very proud of his accomplishments.
Margaret has also overcome what once appeared to be insurmountable challenges to become employed. During her teenage years, she turned to drugs and alcohol in order to cope with a dysfunctional family situation and years of physical abuse. She began using cocaine and heroin in her twenties, and her health rapidly deteriorated. Over the next decade Margaret was diagnosed with a host of ailments including HIV and Hepatitis C.
After a period of hospitalizations and a stint in the city's shelter system, Margaret came to BRC. In 1997, she moved into Los Vecinos SRO, a supportive housing program where Margaret has her own lease and pays rent. Here, she began to turn her life around. At Los Vecinos she re-established her health both physically and mentally, gained ten years of sobriety, and stopped smoking cigarettes. But Margaret was not satisfied with just getting back her own health. She wanted to help others cope with the challenges of disease. Today, forty-eight year old Margaret is a Hepatitis C community liaison at Harlem Hospital where she gives back to the community daily.
David and Margaret's jobs helped them make important strides in other areas of their lives. Margaret's job afforded her the stability and confidence to reconcile with her family and children, and David's employment helped him secure independent housing, which he is moving into today.
Congratulations to both David and Margaret for finding employment and reclaiming their lives.