The holidays are for sharing good times with friends and family. At REDF we thought there was no better time to check in with our friend Patrick Carroll. You may remember that Patrick was honored by REDF in 2013 as the winner of the REDF Moldaw Step-Up Award. With the help of a supportive social enterprise, Patrick was able to turn his life around after having spent three decades in prison; and had just started his job as a property manager. We wrote a blog about that transformation last summer.
Two years later, Patrick is not only still on the job, he’s been promoted! His inspirational story isn’t an outlier. According to an independent study by Mathematica Policy Research, 56 percent of the people hired by social enterprises had jobs one year later, compared to 37 percent who only received job support services.
But Patrick’s experience is much more than a statistic. To us, his accomplishments demonstrate what a difference a job can make.
Ask Patrick Carroll how he made the journey from prison to the Street Team at Chrysalis, and now to a permanent job managing over 100 residential units in two separate Skid Row Housing Trust properties in LA. His answer is simple. “I was ready.”
Chrysalis was ready for him, too. When Patrick walked in the door at Chrysalis, a REDF-funded social enterprise based in LA that creates pathways to self-sufficiency and employment opportunities for homeless individuals, “They welcomed, me, put a cup of coffee in my hand, and set me up with job training and the personal skills I needed so I could deal with society. My Employment Manager helped get me ready to take on the job as a desk clerk for Skid Row Housing Trust. This was my first time ever doing office work. It’s a wonderful feeling to get up every day, go to work, and provide for your family. Without the help I got from Chrysalis and REDF, well let’s just say it would have been hard coming out of prison in your 40s.” Patrick says.
For the last two years Patrick has been employed full-time by Skid Row Housing Trust, first as a desk clerk and now as a building manager. “My supervisor was a great teacher and an awesome leader. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He pushed me to take on the responsibility of being a property manager and taught me everything there is to know about managing a building.”
When it comes to managing a building, there is more to it than just the upkeep Patrick says. It’s all about developing relationships with the staff, with vendors, and with residents. For Patrick sometimes that means simply being there while people transition from homelessness, and providing a sympathetic ear when they run into challenges.
“A resident may feel themselves losing control,” he says, “or falling behind in their rent, or they need to talk with their case manager. They come to me first, tell me about their situation, and if I can’t resolve it, I’ll go to my case manager. It could be as simple as helping someone get a copy of their lease. Or it could be miscommunication between residents and staff, say for example, when a new night staffer might not recognize a resident.”
It takes patience, and understanding Patrick says, but the residents just want to be listened to, and they really appreciate his ability to take the time, talk it out, and get matters resolved.
“100 percent satisfaction,” Patrick laughs. “That’s my motto.”
The people in his neighborhood see the impact a job has made to Patrick’s life too. “It was rough coming up,” he says. “We all had a hard hand. But they see me working, paying taxes, in a job they know is legit. And they go out and get a job and now they are providing for their families.” It’s a ripple effect that plays out time and time again with social enterprises. Research shows that every $1 social enterprises spend returns over $2 in benefits to society.
Thanks to a second Social Innovation Fund grant, and the support of foundations and individual donors, REDF is expanding the impact of its work―going deeper in California and to other regions throughout the U.S.―to help solve the crisis of chronic joblessness among those who face the greatest challenges. With your help tens of thousands of people like Patrick Carroll will have an opportunity to find employment, contribute their many talents to our community, and build a better future for us all.