When Mark was invited by a friend to attend the free community meal at FOCUS Gateway City, he ended up with much more than a full stomach. New to the St. Louis area, volunteers invited him to come to the computer lab and begin his search for work and housing.
“Now I’ve got a full-time job, a place to live and I am a full-time student,” Mark said.
The computer lab at the FOCUS Gateway City Center is available to guests who seek to find employment, housing, stay connected with family or develop necessary job skills.
“Many of the guests who come to use the computer lab are working on skill building,” said Eric Shanburn, Local Director of FOCUS Gateway City, said. “More than half of the people coming in need basic computer training, like using the Internet and email.”
Shanburn said that guests also work on resumes, search for jobs, and can check email for job leads and responses to applications. He wants people to come regularly so they can continue to build skills and see the job application process through.
“The guests will fill out five to ten applications each time they come in,” Shanburn said. “Once they get a response, we will coach them through their interactions with potential employers and work with them on their communication skills.”
Shanburn said he also will act as a reference if needed and make sure those who get work have adequate transportation or a means of getting to their new jobs.
“We have a few people who get jobs each month,” Shanburn said. “Mark’s is a real success story because he came to town with nothing and because of his own initiative and participating with our programs here, he has a place to live, a job and is even going to vocational school for more training.”
One challenge facing the homeless guests that frequent FOCUS Gateway City is the lack of consistent living conditions. Shanburn said that housing provides stability and without it, it is difficult for homeless men and women to find a job. He encourages the homeless guests to use the computer lab for finding housing.
Whether building skills, looking for jobs or doing housing searches, Shanburn said the computer lab is proving to be a valuable resource for FOCUS Gateway City guests in need.