Wayne’s Journey Out of Homelessness and Unemployment: With Paul’s Place By His Side

May 31st, 2018
Photo of Wayne and Ellen, our Goodwill Employment Specialist, in Paul's Place's computer lab.

Click on the photo to watch the video of Wayne and Paroma Nandi, Director of Case Management, sharing how our case management services helped Wayne achieve his goals for employment and housing. This video was premiered at our 35th Anniversary Gala on April 14, and Wayne has since found housing.

Homeless, unemployed, and losing hope by the day…that was Wayne’s existence when he found Paul’s Place. Now, four years later, after overcoming setback after disheartening setback, Wayne has a job he loves and recently moved into his own apartment.

“Paul’s Place helped change my life around,” he says. “As soon as I walked through that door, I had a purpose.” On his first visit to Paul’s Place – greeted by smiling volunteers who treated him with dignity and respect – Wayne knew he was in the right place. That visit was fortuitous: we just happened to be short on volunteers that day, and Wayne was happily put to work washing dishes in the kitchen.

He returned for a shower and Hot Lunch and volunteered again and again, then joined the Ambassador volunteer program. As an Ambassador volunteer, Wayne got hands-on experience in the kitchen – washing dishes and helping prepare lunch for 250+ people – and in customer service. He was connected to other programs and services, including the Men’s Group and computer classes, and he was paired with a case manager: Ellen, our Goodwill Employment Specialist.

Wayne’s priority has been to find employment and housing, and with Ellen, he started working on small goals that would help him achieve the bigger ones. “First, I took a computer class. I learned about the computer. I had to make up a resume. That was the first time I ever had a resume. I started sending my resume out to different jobs. I went on interviews, a lot of interviews,” shared Wayne.

“Ellen, she did help me find like four jobs. Some of the jobs I had to quit because I got bad off sick. Then after that I just kept on working, just kept on working with her and working with her and working with her until I found another job, the job down at M&T Bank Stadium. I like this job.” Wayne is employed as a utility worker in concessions, and he likes the work – washing pots and pans, cleaning the floors, taking out the trash – but his favorite part of the job is the people he meets.

Travis, our STABLE Home Case Manager, helped Wayne get financial assistance toward an unpaid gas and electric bill that was keeping him from getting housing. With support from Travis, Wayne filled out paperwork – “a lot of paperwork” – signed up for and took energy savings classes, and called the Office of Home Energy Programs, BGE, and other nonprofits that offer financial assistance with utility bills. “Travis just kept trying and trying and trying and trying and trying,” Wayne described with a hint of a smile, knowing that his and Travis’ efforts were successful. With his BGE bill paid, Wayne and Travis began the search for affordable housing – a search that was not without setbacks. Wayne applied for several apartments and had a move-in scheduled when the approval of his application was rescinded. He and Travis kept working, and last month, Wayne moved into his own apartment.

Wayne’s story is a great example of how our case managers use a holistic approach to build trust, connect guests to multiple services and resources, and help individuals and families experiencing multiple barriers to self-sufficiency achieve their specific goals. Case management – added just five years ago – has expanded our ability to help our guests address barriers to healthy, stable, and self-reliant lives. The numbers prove its effectiveness. Last year, our case management team helped nearly 800 guests, and 86% made progress toward self-sufficiency.

You can help individuals like Wayne find hope, resources, and support on their paths to achieving their goals and becoming more self-sufficient. Donate now!