Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christopher Place and 12th Night

This Monday, I continued my work at the Christopher Place Employment Center, located at Our Daily Bread in downtown Baltimore. The center takes in homeless men and teaches them basic employment skills. As a volunteer, I help the men to search for job opportunities on the web, create resumes, and eventually contact employers. At the beginning of my three hour shift on Monday, it was unusually slow for the center. Because of this, I ended up getting into a conversation with one of my fellow volunteers, Dave. Dave is probably around 55 or 60 years old, and has worked at the center for a number of years. When talking to Dave, I found out a little bit about what his life was like. Dave is currently employed as a carpenter and actually obtained this job through Christopher Place. He then said that he comes in on Mondays because it was his day off from work. I was shocked, to say the very least. Here, working beside me, was a real life success story for Christopher Place. He said that the center helped him out when he was down on his luck and he wants to help give that opportunity to the other men that use their services. This interaction was so rewarding for me, and really was a great way for me to start my day at the center.

Because it was a slow day at Christopher Place, I really only had one “customer.” His name was Ed, and I needed to help him revise a previous resume so that he could apply for a position at a home that helps young boys who don’t really have a strong home life. In working with Ed, I really saw that he had tremendous passion for this cause and it seemed to come from the fact that he didn’t have the best life growing up. He talked about how he wanted to be a role model for the youth he would be serving and about how this would not only be a positive thing for the boys but a positive thing for him as well. In putting down all of his work experience, I saw that he had a very diverse past. He graduated high school in 1984 and has worked locally in Baltimore as a handyman for almost 25 years. He was recently laid off from his latest position, so he decided to make a career change. He said that he began to think about the change because of positive experiences that he has had coaching boys’ basketball teams in the past. Ed said that his skills as a handyman will probably help him to get hired, but he really wants his new position to be about helping the underprivileged youth.

Ed’s passion and interest in his new position reminded me of an exchange between Viola and the Clown that happened in Act III, Scene I. In the scene, Viola says to the Clown “I warrant thou art a merry fellow and carest for nothing.” This reminded me of the preconceived notions that most people have about the men that use the resources of the Employment Center, myself included. Before going in, I didn’t know what types of jobs that I would be helping these men obtain. I figured that they would be a “take what you can get” mentality, looking to accept whatever entry level job that would hire them. But, I was completely wrong. These men are all passionate, and really search hard for jobs that they cannot only get, but ones that they can flourish in. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that every guy that comes into the Employment Center brings with them a passion for employment. This attitude has definitely rubbed off on me, and makes me that much happier and motivated to help assist them in not only finding a job, but finding them a career.

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