When Jeff found himself homeless, he went to the Rescue Mission for a safe place to stay. What he ended up with was more life-changing support than he expected.
While living as a resident in 2008, he signed up for the Rescue Mission’s Willing to Work program, anxious to get his life back on track. In the program, Jeff routinely met with and learned from a job coach.
In the same year that Jeff entered Willing to Work, the Rescue Mission saw almost 1,200 individuals enter its homelessness shelter. That, partnered with a long history of working with this hard-to-reach population to provide them with education and vocational services, put the organization in a strong and unique position to expand its work preparation services.
Jeff worked with his coach to prepare his resume, set up a voicemail for employer calls and to practice his interview skills. His coach often went out of his way to help, more than once driving Jeff to construction sites before dawn. After Jeff completed the Mission’s Maintenance Skills Track and honed his skills in automotive maintenance, his coach helped him secure a new position at Driver’s Village in Cicero – a job he still holds.
“Those at the Rescue Mission believed in me and gave me a chance to do what I knew I could all along,” said Jeff. “My coach was a positive force in my life. He reminded me that there really are good people out there who want to extend a hand to help people like me. It’s a beautiful thing.”
The guidance he received helped Jeff improve all aspects of his life. He reconnected with his son, continues to support himself and is enjoying the freedom of self-sufficiency.
“We are so proud of the men who work hard to make positive life changes,” said Carolyn Hendrickson, Rescue Mission senior philanthropy officer.
Over eight years since he started, Jeff is still working at Driver’s Village and has established himself as a motivated, hard worker. He has gained the respect and personal support of his coworkers and managers.
His successes have inspired other Rescue Mission residents to join the program and to want to change their lives, too.
As he steps up to his new role as a mentor and continues to make strides, Jeff lives his life like his motto: Take nothing for granted.
“I am living one day at a time, living life on life’s terms and life is good.”
Since 1887, the Rescue Mission has provided hope and independence for people who have lost just about everything. Regardless of what brought them there, each person who crosses their threshold in downtown Syracuse is welcomed, accepted, comforted and challenged to begin a new life.