From an early age, Tom had a drive to work, especially on jobs that he could take a step back from at the end of the day and see what he helped make. “[My dad] set me up with some roofers, thinking that they were going to wear me out. Turns out, I liked pushing myself. I also liked having money to go out with my friends without having to ask anybody for anything.”

Despite going on to develop a diverse work history in a number of industries across the country, Tom found himself experiencing homelessness in Southern California in the late 90s. Without a permanent address and with a few arrests on his record, he was met with hesitance from potential employers.

The next few years would see Tom facing a lot of moves and stressful times. He ended up needing to return home to the Midwest to focus on family and later went on to accept a job as a mechanic in Idaho. When he was abruptly laid off, he saw an opportunity to continue in a similar role in Southern California. But just months after moving back, the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down, and Tom was laid off yet again. While confined at home during the safer-at-home orders, he suffered a heart attack, and his health became a top priority.

Tom had learned about Chrysalis when he lived in Los Angeles years prior through word of mouth. “Chrysalis was understanding.” This recollection led him back to utilizing the organization’s services upon returning to California. But this time, things were a little different as the world was navigating the pandemic. Tom stayed in touch with Chrysalis virtually and eventually re-enrolled in our job-readiness program. Through our COVID-19 Relief Fund, he received gift cards to help cover the cost of groceries and assistance with his phone bill. “It was a really huge help…It would have meant the world if I didn’t have it.”

With his health in good standing, he connected with staff and volunteers to revise his resume, acquired professional attire for interviews, and was referred to the LA:RISE program, an innovative partnership between nonprofit social enterprises and the City and County of Los Angeles’ workforce development system.

Chrysalis Staffing, a business within our employment social enterprise, connected Tom to a temporary position as a House Attendant with Shutters on the Beach. Quickly recognizing his level of dependability and work ethic, the company offered Tom a full-time job just a few months later.

Tom reminds us that someone’s story isn’t over when they get a job. While he is grateful to have steady income and a roof over his head, he shares that making ends meet in Southern California is hard. “I don’t feel like there’s a solid path to being on solid ground, everything here is shaky. Everything is expensive. To be honest, I feel like everything could collapse at any moment. But I’ll keep holding it together and pushing myself through.”

Tom continues to engage with Chrysalis, including getting his Driver License reinstated with support from the SECTOR program and by referring others to our organization. He advises, “Be careful about how you get stuck in the system. There’s a lot of cracks out there. There’s a lot of places you can get forgotten and lost. Some people are just fine pushing your paperwork to the side. But Chrysalis isn’t one of them. Chrysalis is your best bet to become self-sufficient.”