Melvin, age 71, came to Heartland Hope Mission for the first time in 2019. He is a military veteran and receives a Social Security check each month. But, having lost his job four months prior, this became his only income. For Melvin, living on Social Security alone was not enough to make ends meet. He was struggling to pay all his bills, plus have enough money left to buy food.
Melvin came to Heartland Hope Mission in need of food pantry service. While he was waiting to go through the pantry and select his groceries, he learned that a representative from an employment agency was on site here at Heartland Hope Mission. Melvin decided to speak with a representative from Heartland Workforce Solutions about getting back to work. They set up an appointment to meet with Melvin for a further interview at their location on 57th and Ames streets. Melvin applied for a job working for the Henry Doorly Zoo, and was hired on as a seasonal full-time employee. He has since transitioned to become a full-time regular employee in the IMAX Theater at the zoo.
Beyond helping Melvin to be able to pay his bills and buy food, having a job gives him a sense of purpose and usefulness, as well as fighting off the boredom, loneliness and futility that are common in the elderly population. “I came in on a Thursday and I talked to Andy and he got me in the office on Ames. Since I’m a vet, I was able to meet with a representative. I applied for job at the zoo. I did not get the job at first. They sent my application to another person, and I got the job. I will start my orientation this Saturday. … When you are older and you don’t work, you don’t do anything but sit there and watch TV. You get old and die.” Melvin checked back in with us after 8 days on the job at the zoo. He was loving the job and the people he was working with.
Having found Heartland Hope Mission, Melvin knows he has a place to come for assistance if he ever has trouble buying food. But, more than that, he was able to get on a path toward increased self-sufficiency, getting matched with a job he could do to have another income stream.
When asked how he feels about getting back to work, Melvin answered, “That’s what it’s all about; that keeps you young and that’s what I love about it.”
“Melvin was very thankful when he learned about our Job Paths program. He had lost his job and needed to find another job to make ends meet. I remember when he came into the pantry in his work uniform with a big smile on his face because he loves his new job.” ~ Renae Bush, Heartland Hope Mission Community Relations Specialist.