Very few people light up with enthusiasm when it comes to the subject of paying bills. However, that’s exactly what happened when Shawn Farrar was asked what he was going to do on his day off from work. He responded happily with, “I’m going to pay my bills.”
In fact, Shawn celebrates all aspects of his freedom after being released from jail and 16 years of incarceration.
“I was young and stupid,” Shawn said. “And paid with 16 years of my life.”
Shawn, now in his mid-30s, was released into a world where he had no resources: no home, no money, and he had never worked a full time job in his life.
“I guess I was naive.” he said. “I was on parole, and I just assumed that the Department of Correction would help me with those things. But everything freaked me out. I had to adjust to crowds and movement. I kept telling myself, ‘I’m going to get a job and get off the streets,’ but I had no pathway.”
Shawn ended up living in a tent in Seattle’s City Hall. He originally came to the Millionair Club Charity (MCC) for a shower, when he found out about the supportive employment program.
Senior Director of the Employment Program, Angele Leaptrot, remembers interviewing Shawn.
“We always do a background check on every person who applies to be in our program, and from time to time they come up with crimes of different types and severity,” Angele said. “Of course at MCC, folks are not automatically denied employment based on crimes in their past. Each case is considered carefully to see if there is an area of work for which they will be suited.”
They were able to find jobs at businesses that were a good fit for Shawn, finally getting the support he needed to get his life back on track.
Shawn went to work immediately cleaning streets in Ballard and working on industrial clean up jobs. Getting connected to work so quickly and without judgment of his circumstances has made all the difference for Shawn.
“This place is a god send,” Shawn said. “I didn’t know which way to turn, and MCC gave me focus.”
MCC supervisor Tammy Cable said Shawn “works circles around everybody.”
“He never comes to work with anything but a good attitude,” Tammy said.
Shawn now has the opportunity to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
“You can catch the vibe of someone who wants out of being homeless and to get out of their situation,” Shawn said. “When I feel that vibe, I make it a point to tell people to go talk to Tammy at MCC.”
Now Shawn has his eyes set on three important goals – a full time job with benefits; saving enough money to get a room of his own; and a very personal milestone near and dear to his heart.
“I haven’t seen my mom or anyone in my family for 16 years,” he said. “I saved up the money and I’m flying home for a reunion next week. I just bought the ticket.”
And with a big smile, Shawn put his one possession – a small backpack – up on his shoulder, and went out to pay his bills.
You can make a difference for workers like Shawn – help us raise $450,000 by December 31st! Donations to our annual campaign ensure that MCC’s supportive employment program continue offering essential job readiness services to people who are homeless or living in poverty. Make a contribution today.
Another way to support MCC workers is to help them stay warm and dry throughout winter, you can purchase items like rain coats, sweatshirts, socks and more from our Amazon Wish List! If you host your own sock or coat dive, in-kind donations can be delivered to MCC at 2515 Western Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 between 6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.