“Spiraling out of control and in need of help” was how Community Support Specialist Janet Addison described Derek Shaw, an unemployed 54-year-old who came to My Brother’s Keeper for lunch and gained a foothold to stability thanks to client services.
“Every day 50-70 people come to My Brother’s Keeper needing a meal,” said Program Director Kevin Mason, “and they’ll gain access to so much more.”
Addison helped Shaw find a place to live and get medication to treat his schizophrenia. Once those critical elements were in place, he returned to work as a landscaper.
The first step in a path to self-sufficiency
“My Brother’s Keeper is a ‘no-judgment zone,’” said Mason. “The last thing we want is for anyone to feel ashamed. We’re living and breathing the mission.”
My Brother’s Keeper joined Catholic Charities in July 2018. Now, the program offers a hot lunch every day of the week and on-site counseling, workforce training, and job placement.
Finding work and housing is key to coming out of poverty. My Brother’s Keeper partners with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development to connect clients with jobs. It also has relationships with reliable mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs. Not only that, but it offers advice on benefit access and management, like understanding which disability plans may continue even if an individual gets a job. And individuals can get help expunging certain qualifying legal records that can stand in the way of employment. The program also is one of several at Catholic Charities offering computer and skills training.
Catholic Charities operates five programs that focus on workforce development and employment services.