Homeless Can Mean Employable

St. Vincent de Paul Career Center Offers Help

According to David Bach, author of “Start Late, Finish Rich,” “The number-one challenge facing virtually every employer and boss in America is finding great employees.”

And some of the employers’ most common challenges include:

  • They come to work late;
  • They punch the clock;
  • They are content with mediocrity;
  • They never say “thank you”;
  • They lie; and,
  • They do good work, not great work.

At St. Vincent De Paul these common challenges are addressed through helping the homeless to let go of their financial past as they jump into what it takes to secure their self-sufficient future.

With the support of forty-two corporate sponsors and eleven agency partners, the thousands of homeless men and women who are housed over the years at St. Vincent de Paul are assessed, encouraged, and guided to be responsible employees.

Career Center Training

The St. Vincent De Paul Career and Education Center’s mission, according to Nick Coniaris, Program Manager of Career & Education, “is to motivate clients to achieve economic self-sufficiency by providing adult education, career preparation and job placement through progressive curricula, technology and industry partnerships.”

All residents who desire to stay at the Village for more than 120-days are required to:

  • Secure their (GED), if they don’t have a high school diploma
  • Attend Adult Education courses, if they do not meet the minimum TABE scores
  • Master the two-week Challenge to Change course, designed to ensure great social skills
  • Go to Smart Money Budgeting workshop

Required Computer Classes

Though there is a small percentage of residents at St. Vincent De Paul who are disabled and receiving Social Security benefits, those who are not on disability must take and be tested on the following computer courses, prior to attending training in job searching skills, and career retention:

  • MS Word, Internet Workshop, Computer Essentials, and Résumé Workshop.
  • Other Elective Computer Classes Offered to
  • Residents
  • Residents who are inspired to be armed with more hard skills can attend any or all of these two-week courses:
  • MS Power Point, MS Excel, MS Access, MS Access
  • Culinary Arts Program (CAP)

And while they may not aspire to be the next Rachel Ray, many residents apply for and attend the six-month Culinary Arts Program, where they receive training on not only how to cook; they also receive training on the culture of the various cuisines that they must master.

Bill Jones, current CAP student, sees this as an excellent opportunity to secure a career.

Your Career Repositioning &mdash Or, Branding

When some think of the homeless, they think in terms of bad appearance, psychological problems, criminal backgrounds and a lack of initiative.

Yet, in this economy, the homeless also includes law students, nurses, and some that have lost their jobs at big corporations, such as IBM.

Stephen Ingram, who appeared on KGTV, Channel 10, describes the job search, prior to being trained at St. Vincent De Paul, like a “roller coaster ride.”

Ingram, who worked for IBM and owned a small business as a graphic illustrator, immersed himself within all that St. Vincent De Paul has to offer and now sees himself “employable with more wisdom than prior to coming to ‘The Village.’”

Beyond the computer skill, fundamental education training and social training, Ingram, along with all career-tracked residents attend these three job-readiness programs:

  1. Appearance and attitude
  2. Job Seeking Skills (JSS) (10 business days)
  • • Job searching skills, traits and transferable skills
  • • Résumé writing
  • • Cover letter writing
  • • “Thank you letter” writing
  • • Job references
  • • Peer evaluation
  • • The hiring process
  • • Job leads and tracking of leads
  • • Speaking, listening, problem-solving, working in teams
  • • Job application
  • • Telephone etiquette
  1. Job Club (Required until resident has proof of employment)
  • • Job searching guidance
  • • Expanding networks and resources
  • • Learn and refine job retention skills
  • • Practice professionalism
  • • Attend onsite employer visits


Infused within the career-track training, is the consideration that some residents have challenges such as mental health or criminal backgrounds. These issues are addressed, in this environment, to help the resident go from allowing this to be a barrier to turning this into something to respond to, while focusing upon who they have become &mdash not who they were.

Message for the hiring managers and those who invest in St. Vincent De Paul

Armed with an employable identity, St. Vincent De Paul residents not only are great employees, but did you know that 30% of their gross income is paid to St. Vincent De Paul (with the promise to pay the resident back 60% of this investment, one year after leaving the village, in quarterly payments), while another 30% is required to remain in savings during the resident’s stay?

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