After retiring from a 39-year career as an educator at Coppin State University, Ed Sommerfeldt joined the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, a ministry of men and women aged 50 and over who work for a more just society and serve the needs of people who are poor. Through the Ignatian Volunteer Corps, Ed was introduced to the Our Daily Bread Employment Center and knew right away that his experience as a professor would be beneficial to the Christopher Place Employment Academy.
Christopher Place Employment Academy is an intensive residential program providing education and training as well as emotional, spiritual, and addiction recovery support to formerly homeless men. Participants engage in a process of change that moves them from homelessness to permanent stable living, trains them to obtain employment and empowers them to live a life free of drugs and alcohol.
Ed volunteers four days a week teaching the men of Christopher Place math and computer skills, serving as a mentor, and helping with resume writing and job searches in the Our Daily Bread Employment Center.
Ed recalls a former student at Coppin State who developed a criminal background. After serving his time in prison and continuing his education, this young man had a difficult time finding a job because of his background and subsequently went back to criminal activity. This experience helped Ed develop a calling to work with ex-offenders to help them overcome their barriers to employment.
In Ed’s words, “some people would say that the men of Christopher Place have chosen their path in life and should not be given a second chance, but circumstance and opportunity play a large part in where people go in their lives. If someone is an ex-offender, that is all the more reason to pay attention to them and where they are coming from. Forgiveness and compassion are the basis of the Christopher Place program. The men soak up every bit of information that is offered and are so appreciative to learn a different way of living. They are eager to move on to a better way of life.”