“The best social program is a job.”
I saw this quote on a reader board near the Mission recently. When I looked it up on Google, I discovered it was attributed to Ronald Reagan. The complete quote:
“The best social program is a productive job for anyone who’s willing to work.”
Like a lot of quotes that are taken out of context, this one is a bit simplistic, but it makes a solid point, one I’m prepared to defend. We cannot break the cycle of homelessness in this community until we find ways to help people get back to work. Let me be clear: The solution to homelessness is complex and must involve an individualized, whole-person approach – healing for adverse childhood experiences, addiction recovery, education, counseling, medical care and support for the mentally ill – but work is a significant piece of the puzzle.
Meaningful work is part of the God-designed plan for life.
I think of Ryan Brown, UGM Youth Outreach Director. Ryan came to UGM as a guest back in the 90s. He was lost, without purpose, an addict, a deadbeat dad. A staff member recognized his work stacking chairs in the dining room and affirmed him for his work ethic and positive attitude. Ryan still refers to that incident, 20+ years later, as a defining moment for him. He recognized that he had a contribution to make. And undeniably, Ryan has gone on to make a significant difference in the lives of so many young people – first as a youth pastor and now as a trailblazer in the area of youth ministry here at UGM.
Troy, featured on this month’s cover, is another great example. He had been homeless for 10 years before coming to UGM. He attributes his radical life change to the gospel and the Employment Ready Program. Troy is working full time, has his own place, his own car, is paying his bills and taking care of his responsibilities. As he says, he can look at himself in the mirror and feel good about the man he sees.
One conversation with Wendy or Susan, also featured in this newsletter, and you won’t be able to miss their enthusiasm about working in the medical field and social services, respectively.
Succeeding at a job gives a person the knowledge that she has something to offer, that he can make a difference in his corner of the world.
Work is a good thing, designed by God, and with your help, UGM is helping people get back to it!
If you’d like to know more about becoming one of our employment partners, click below!