Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Hierarchy of Challenges: Alcoholism, Homelessness and Prison

It is much harder to work with an individual rebuilding a life from addiction and homelessness than someone trying to reenter the workforce as an ex-offender.

That's been my experience over the last 13 years employing and job training individuals seeking a new start from homelessness, addiction and prison in our various faith venture businesses at Belay Enterprises.

Conventional wisdom tells employers to stay away from ex-offenders because they can not be trusted because of past mistakes, they are unmotivated, and they can be very difficult to work with on a daily basis. But I have found that to be completely untrue. People entering the workforce after prison tend to be highly motivated with a deep desire to succeed in order to rebuild relationships with their families and to restore their life. They just need someone to give them a chance and an environment that allows them to thrive on the job.

The most challenging client we work with in our various transitional employment businesses is the person trying to rebuild from debilitating alcoholism. This type of substance abuse is so difficult to overcome because alcohol is such a part of the fabric of our society increasing the chances of relapses and the ever-present specter of denial.

A close second to alcoholism is the difficulty of working with someone exiting a life on the streets. Homelessness creates so many emotional and practical difficulties that take time and patience to overcome.

And then there is the common occurrence of the person who is rebuilding life from all three.

But whether it's addiction, homelessness or prison, all of these challenges need followers of Christ to catch a faith venture vision of creating nurturing employment opportunities for individuals society declares unfit for second chances.

It is so beautiful to watch God's grace restore broken lives through the power of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

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