Stories of Hope – J.P

 “J.P was dropped off by the Sheriff, with only the clothes on his back…”

J.P was dropped off at the Gateway Mission by the Ottawa County Sheriff, with only the clothes on his back. He had no identification, and very little hope. When inquired about his family support, he reported to have had his father pass away a long time ago, and a mother who has been in & out of prison for many years. He had biological siblings but had lost contact with them over the years. J.P explained that he has an anxiety disorder, and PTSD after early exposure to violence and death.

In the brief window of time that he was allotted to stay at the mission, J.P was able to acquire his state identification, apply for a driver’s license, and applied for several employment opportunities. On his last day of stay, he was very vocal and anxious about his inability to find a job. He reported to have walked into several establishments with signs “Now Hiring” in the window, only to be dismissed or handed a job application and sent away.

As the new Outreach Chaplain, I was able to walk around downtown Holland with J.P to advocate for him. As we walked, I explained to him the importance of good communication, and the power of first impressions. I encouraged him to leave his backpack in the locker room, and present as fully present and prepared for an interview on the spot.

When we walked into a few different restaurants, J.P nervously followed my lead. We asked if they were hiring, and also asked to speak with a manager on duty…We were graciously offered an interview on the spot, and J.P did very well to advocate for himself. He explained his work history, his commitment to teamwork and being a “fast learner.” J.P was quickly granted a 2nd interview at Jimmy Johns, and he walked away very optimistic for the weekend.

Due to the progress made as evidenced by his persistence to get a 2nd interview, the Men’s Mission was able to grant him another extension of stay. The following Monday, I was able to reconnect with J.P. He was ecstatic to share the good news: Over the weekend he had gone to the library and researched his family history. He discovered that he had some relatives living on the northside of Holland, and actually made contact with his Aunt and Uncle. They are the owners of Stripe A Lot Asphalt company, and offered him a full time job!

Not only has J.P been able to find employment, he has also been able to re-establish a relationship with his relatives, and will have the opportunity to lay the foundation for his future. He has found a support network through familial bonds, as well as the team of advocates at the Gateway Mission, where “hope is found.”

*Shared with permission