“My favorite part about this job is making a person smile,” Eunice says, flashing her own winning grin. “Helping a homeless person find a home, giving them a chance to do something in this world besides sleep on a sidewalk, that’s the best. I love giving them a place where they know they have an opportunity to make it in this life.”
Eunice is the property manager at the Courtland Hotel, a Los Angeles residence for people with fixed incomes. “My job is to make sure that the tenants pay their rent, that the Courtland is clean, sanitary, kept up to par, so that everyone feels like it is their home,” she explains. One look around the place shows how seriously Eunice takes her job. The halls are sparkling, the atmosphere is quiet and cheerful.
Eunice’s experience is paying off, and she has experience to spare—though not necessarily the kind that would land her a good job. Two years ago, Eunice was homeless herself. “I was living in hotels, working, with all my money going to the rent,” she says. “I had nothing to show, no future, no plans. I was depressed and frustrated.” She ended up on the street, with no money and nowhere to turn.
In an effort to get her life back on track, she moved to Los Angeles, where she contacted one of REDF’s portfolio enterprises—Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating pathways to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. There she took classes that prepared her with knowledge and skills necessary for long-term employment and self-sufficiency. “Chrysalis helped me update my resume,” Eunice says. “They gave me the clothes I needed to go interviews.” Within months, she was employed through Chrysalis as an assistant property manager at the Ward Hotel and living in an apartment of her own. Chrysalis helped her stay focused and motivated as she got back on her feet. Within a year she was hired at the Courtland where her responsibilities have expanded, along with her confidence and self-esteem.
Eunice cherishes the security and stability that having a job brings to her life. “You don’t have to depend on anyone, because as long as you show up and do your job, you’re going to have that paycheck,” she says. She is proud of encouraging others to take command of their futures the way she took command of hers. “I’ve learned that if I keep doing what I am supposed to be doing, something better is going to come out of it.”
The Stuart G. Moldaw Step-Up Award is an annual honor, named in memory of one of REDF’s founding board members. The award is given to employees of REDF-supported social enterprises for their tenacity and courage in overcoming significant barriers to employment – like people who have been homeless or in prison, young people who’ve dropped out of school or people with mental health disabilities.