The mission of the San Joaquin county nonprofit Ready to Work (RTW) is clear: to help those who are experiencing homelessness change their situation for the better.
According to RTW Executive Director Jonathan Mendelson, the nonprofit fills a gap in the local response to homelessness. Their target segment is the male population, a population Mendelson says has very few support options available in the county.
“Our entire program is focused on getting [those who experience homelessness] a job,” Mendelson said.
The nonprofit provides clients a range of services to assist them in obtaining a job. They offer shelter, food, clothing, case management, counseling, education, financial management, job search support, paid work, skills training, and transportation assistance.
“A job is the key that unlocks self-sufficiency,” Mendelson said. “It provides a long-term source of income that will help people get out of homelessness and break cycles of poverty and insecurity.”
The organization leverages community partnerships to provide paid work for their clients. A few of those partners are Caltrans, the City of Stockton, the Bank of America Foundation, and the Downtown Stockton Alliance. These partnerships allow clients to work several days per week, build soft skills and enhance their resumes for future employment.
RTW’s goal is to move clients through the program successfully. In their first several months of operation, they sheltered 86 men. Of those who stayed in the program for more than 30 days, 100 percent increased their income. There are currently 35 clients, and the organization will soon expand to 45 clients.
Client Theodore Stamatelos used the organization’s resources to help him gain the skills he needed to enter the workforce. Stamatelos came to RTW after completing a prison sentence. Within a month, he identified a professional field, started completing applications, and got paperwork in order. Now, Stamatelos is training to become a commercial truck driver, and he recently graduated from a collaborative court program.
The organization believes the majority of those who experience homelessness are like Stamatelos. They may have made a poor choice that led them to their current state, or they experienced external factors that contributed to their homelessness.
“People don’t want to be homeless,” Mendelson stated. “But they need help to break free of their current condition, get on their feet, and get the tools necessary to have a chance to stand on their own.”
There are many ways our community can help — starting with our local businesses. Mendelson said they need employers who are willing to hire their clients – ones who have shown the desire and follow-through to invest in themselves.
In addition, the success of the nonprofit depends on funding and donations. To support RTW with your tax-deductible donation, please visit www.readytoworksjc.org/donate-today.