Behind the scenes at the Our Daily Bread Employment Center, residents of Christopher Place Employment Academy unassumingly give of themselves each day to support each other and the operations of the Our Daily Bread Employment Center (ODBEC). “Part of the Christopher Place process is creating a sense of community within the building. Assigning the men daily tasks around the building reinforces ownership in the program and helps teach a positive work ethic that will be extremely important to maintaining stable employment later in the program and for the rest of their careers,” explains Carl Howell, Program Director of Christopher Place.
Every day a crew of Christopher Place men complete their assigned tasks, taking pride in meticulously making sure everything from the center’s 15 bathrooms to the building’s 52,000 square feet of floors are clean and inviting for the hundreds of guests who visit the center each day. Keith, one Christopher Place resident says, “We have assigned jobs to do but sometimes just doing that isn’t enough. I want to help out any way that I can. It’s a family thing here; we unite and do things together. Like last weekend we cleaned the back stairway. It was our free time, but we saw that it was needed and we came together to get it done.”
When they are not attending daily classes, the men can often be seen in the Our Daily Bread dining room serving breakfast to guests, or outside greeting volunteers and thanking donors as they help to unload casseroles and other donations coming into the building. Even when winter weather kept many volunteers from traveling to serve the daily lunch meal at Our Daily Bread, Christopher Place residents were eagerly there to help out.
“I feel like I let the community down a little bit when I was using drugs. Now that I’m here I want to give something back to all the people that come here – the groups that tour, the volunteers, the new guys in the program, everyone,” says Keith.
The Christopher Place men not only share their personal stories to encourage each other in the program, some also volunteer to meet with other men in the community who may come from similar backgrounds and situations to encourage others to utilize programs like Christopher Place. The men also support ODBEC by speaking with donors and volunteers, putting a face to the positive work of the center and educating people about social problems that have personally plagued their lives and the lives of many ODBEC clients.