Today on “Giving Tuesday,” all of us a the Millionair Club Charity want to give thanks to our donors, volunteers, and community partners, who help our “jobs first” solution to homelessness stabilize and rebuild the lives of hundreds of men and women each year. Reggie, pictured below, is just one of the 854 people who received services through the MCC’s supportive employment program last year. THANK YOU SUPPORTERS – without you, success stories like Reggie’s would not be possible.
“If you’re a homeless person, and able-bodied, I don’t know why you don’t get down here to the MCC. I can come in here and take a shower, wash clothes. I can eat. This place is like, the hand that pulled me up, and made sure that once I was standing, that I had everything I needed to stay up. They got you. They got you.”
Reggie became homeless after Hurricane Katrina in 2009. Since that time, he and his family relocated from state to state, hoping that eventually they would find a place that provided a living and felt like home.
Unfortunately for Reggie, his travels never brought him to a place of stability. In April of 2016, he came to Seattle, with just a suitcase. “When I came to Seattle, I had lost everything, literally everything. I was living on the street and had no resources. It was the first time I really, really needed help as an adult person. And I kept thinking, what is it going to take to get me back on my feet?”
Reggie found a place to sleep in a mission, so that solved that problem. But what Reggie really wanted to do, was find a job. He was told to try the Millionair Club Charity.
“I didn’t have the clothes or shoes to work at a proper job. Miss Olivia and Miss Lily at the MCC helped me so much. I mean, they didn’t know me from a can of beans, but they just helped me. It’s not just a job to them – here it’s personal. And there’s a whole team that shows up for me.”
With his work clothes and Food Handler’s card provided by the MCC, Reggie went to work at Century Link stadium. He tried different kinds of jobs – cleaning streets for the Metropolitan Improvement District, and light industrial work at iClick Industries – then found a permanent job as a kitchen manager at the Underground Tour office. But there were still some things that were holding Reggie back from success.
“Living at the mission, I had to carry around my bags with me all day. I was so embarrassed to have to bring my bags to work. But there were all these lockers lining the walls at the MCC. I said, who are they for? They said, they’re for workers like you. This doesn’t sound like a big thing, but considering the situation I was in, it was gigantic.”
Reggie also remembers that it was really hard to work six days a week while sleeping at the mission. The MCC’s employment program told Reggie he could move in to the rooms at the Kasota apartments, but Reggie worried that he didn’t have enough money saved to pay a deposit on the rent. Then he was told that the first month’s rent would be taken care of by the MCC. “My room might be small. I might be able to sit in the middle and touch both walls of my apartment with my hands outstretched. But these are MY walls. Being in my own room is like removing an elephant that was jumping on me every time I tried to get up. I feel normal here. I feel like a normal person. When Angele gave me that key to my room, I was like WOW, these are my walls.”