Moving Forward and Up
“It had been almost seven years since I worked and received a paycheck from a real job,” said Antonio Hammond as he completed the Capstone event at Christopher Place Employment Academy in March 2011. The Capstone event is a graduation of sorts, marking when the men of Christopher Place have completed the first part of the program to become “job ready” and will begin to actively look for full-time employment.
Shortly after the Capstone event, Antonio was the first in his class to become employed, accepting a job working as a full-time custodian at the Lexington Street Market. Antonio points out, “it wasn't an ideal job to be cleaning restrooms for a living, but it felt good to finally land a job and I was happy to have it.”
Incorporating the lessons and principles he learned from Christopher's Place of being courteous and polite to everybody Antonio often received praise and compliments from customers and his supervisor, which helped him to quickly move into the most sought after shift as a “rookie.”
Antonio was proud to have a real job after so many years, but was eager to explore more opportunities. Despite his very warm and personable attitude, Antonio's criminal background proved to be a major barrier to employment. Luckily, his placement manager was able to help him find an additional part-time job working at a cleaning company that offered second chances to ex-offenders.
By late summer, Antonio's placement manager presented him with another opportunity that had the potential of opening the door to a new career. The opportunity was with the Bio Technical Institute of Maryland, Lab Associates program, a six-month program preparing individuals to work as laboratory associates in various fields.
Antonio had some uncertainty about going back to school, but through perseverance and diligence he excelled through all of the testing requirements, wowed the interviewers with his humbleness and honesty, and was one of thirty (out of 400 applicants) selected to participate in the BioTech program.
Since beginning the program in October 2011, Antonio continues to excel amongst his peers, maintains a grade average of 89, and has never missed a class or arrived late. He is currently in the phase of the program where he is working in the lab. He is quizzed every day and has homework every night. Upon completion of the lab phase, he will begin a 60-hour internship, hopefully with an employer who will offer him full-time employment. Antonio hopes to begin a career as a Laboratory Glass Washer and move up from there.
Antonio is so thankful for the lessons learned and the continuum of support that Christopher Place provides. With a smile on his face he says, “I love Catholic Charities… I tell everybody about this place saying ‘I am still connected!’ They have helped me on the path to my career goals.”
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