EVERETT — Housing Hope connected Bryant Blauvelt with more than a home, but also a pathway to a job.
Blauvelt is a graduate of the internship program run by HopeWorks, an affiliate of Housing Hope, an affordable housing developer.
Launched in 2011, it aims to help participants gain skills and training for in-demand jobs in the region — food service, landscaping and retail. The organization plans to expand the job training program when HopeWorks Station II opens later this year.
During the recession, Blauvelt was left jobless as his family was forced to move from the home they were renting in Everett. The family of three was unable to find a new spot they could afford.
“My head hanged low,” Blauvelt said. “I was a little scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen,”
After a three-month paid internship at HopeWorks, he is now employed at ReNewWorks Home and Decor, one of its three social enterprise businesses.
The combination of the two — shelter and a stable job — helped boost his self-esteem, he said.
“You have a roof over your head, while at the same time a way to support your family,” he said.
The internship program, which graduated about 40 people last year, has been growing consistently over the years. It eventually will double or even triple its reach, according to Ed Petersen, chief strategic officer at Housing Hope and HopeWorks.
That idea is based on the plan for HopeWorks Station II.
The new five-story building, set to open later this year, is bringing 65 units of affordable housing to Broadway next door to HopeWorks Station I. The project also includes a commercial kitchen and classrooms to expand culinary training, along with a restaurant and a cafe that will be open to the public.
Blauvelt was one of nine interns to sign the final beam for the project before it was installed on the roof of HopeWorks Station II during a ceremony Friday afternoon. This group had gone through the program and then was later hired on by HopeWorks.
Another graduate, Michael DeRogatis, proudly added his signature to the final beam.
Five years ago, he said, he was living on the streets in Everett. Today, five years sober, he has an apartment in Everett and a job at GroundWorks, the landscaping business.
“It’s double stability,” DeRogatis said. “To sign my name on the beam is an honor.”
Five years in the making, HopeWorks Station II is Housing Hope’s largest and most complex project yet. It will provide a much deeper culinary training experience while filling a tremendous need for jobs, said Fred Safstrom, CEO of the organization.
“Our local food operators are just crying for help,” he said. “This doesn’t have to be for life, for a lot of people this will be the beginning of their career.”
Safstrom wore a wide smile Friday, but his grin grew a little brighter as his son, John Safstrom, a foreman for the project, placed the final beam on the roof of HopeWorks Station II.
“This is what 31 years has resulted in,” Safstrom said, before posing for a picture with his son.