Nina White hopes to work in an office someday. William Robinson used to get construction jobs, but injuries ended that occupation. Both have been homeless, and now live in low-income housing. And both are gaining job skills as paid interns at ReNewWorks Home and Decor, an Everett shop operated by HopeWorks Social Enterprises.
Fred Safstrom, CEO of Housing Hope and HopeWorks, said the grant will help pay for construction of HopeWorks Station II, the second phase of the agency’s project on Broadway near Everett Station. Just north of HopeWorks Station I, which now houses ReNewWorks at 3331 Broadway and the CafeWorks coffee shop, the new building “is where those internships will be hosted,” Safstrom said Wednesday.
The Gates grant was received this summer, said Sara Wilson, Housing Hope events and marketing manager. The capital grant will fund the new building’s kitchen, equipment and spaces for culinary job training. Groundbreaking for HopeWorks Station II is scheduled for early 2018, with completion sometime in 2019, Safstrom said.
In the ReNewWorks store Wednesday, White, 48, was working on vintage furniture, cleaning and polishing mirrors.
“I would love to be doing something to learn office skills,” said White, who lives in an Everett apartment operated by Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. A case manager helped her find the internship, which pays minimum wage and lasts three months.
“Last year we served 38 interns,” said Rachel Clifton, Housing Hope’s internship coordinator. Cost for the agency is about $2,420 per intern, Clifton said.
White works part-time at the store, and has another job at an Xfinity Arena concession stand during Silvertips games and other events. A Seattle native, she said she struggled in school but has worked many jobs, from “a lot of fast food” to sewing for a luggage manufacturer. White said she lost her previous housing, and was at risk of living on the streets, when a roommate situation didn’t work out.
“This company here, they’re really cool,” she said of HopeWorks.
Robinson, 36, was in the shop Wednesday using a computer to track inventory. A father of three, he lives with his family in a Housing Hope complex in central Everett.
“Everyone became homeless for a reason,” Robinson said. His path, he said, included an injury, surgeries, drug addiction and troubles with the law. Finding work with a criminal record has been a major challenge, he said.
After a rock-bottom overdose experience, he went to drug treatment. His battle to stay clean began about three years ago, he said. And it is a battle. Robinson said he had to eliminate from his life “people I used to hang out with,” along with all their phone numbers.
The internship “has been really good,” he said. His dream job would be sharing his story, through some type of nonprofit, to help others.
Safstrom said HopeWorks Station II, which will have 65 units of housing on upper levels, should at least double the agency’s internship program, “to 100 per year with HopeWorks alone.”
HopeWorks runs several businesses. ReNewWorks specializes in consigned and donated furniture. CafeWorks is a barista training ground, staffed by interns from the Cocoon House teen shelter and a Housing Hope teen parent program. GroundWorks provides jobs and internships in commercial landscaping.
Plans call for the cafe to move to the new building. With a substantial kitchen, what has been a coffee shop will became a full-service cafe. “There will be much greater job training opportunities in food preparation and service,” Safstrom said. “What we aspire to do, not only at HopeWorks but in our greater employment program, is provide a great variety of opportunities.”
Beyond HopeWorks internships, Housing Hope and its affiliate have community-based employment programs and job help for students. Safstrom said people housed by the Everett Gospel Mission, the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington’s Family Shelter, the YWCA and other agencies are also being trained.
“Our big emphasis the past several years has been helping families we serve and others in coming out of homelessness and extreme poverty,” Safstrom said. “Internships play a critical role.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.