Read the heartwarming tale in the Daily Camera here. Copied below in its entirety:
Widd Wedford of Bridge House explains the program’s facilities to, from left, Leslie Durgin of the Boulder Chamber, City Councilman Aaron Brockett, and Boulder housing official Kurt Firnhaber last August. The three were on a city-sponsored bus tour of homeless and transitional living facilities in Boulder. (Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer)
I was born in 1969 outside of Detroit, but consider myself a native Coloradan. I have an older sister and brother and had a wonderful childhood with a loving family. I also had a good education.
In August 1983, my family relocated to Denver. In 1987, I graduated from Northglenn Senior High School. I have had a very interesting career working with computer networks, in a bakery, bartending and in the retail industry — steadily employed for 16 years.
In July 2013 I was terminated from my employer here locally. When I could not pay my rent, I became homeless. I soon ran out of money for food, and went four days without eating. I was feeling sick, weak and hopeless, on the streets. Another homeless man saw me and said I wasn’t looking good. I told him my situation and he took me to the Carriage House/Bridge House. I had something to eat and got a list of where the evening Community Table dinners were held.
Still on the streets, I was feeling a little better until the 2013 flood. It is truly a miracle I survived. My campsite was wiped out and I was left with just the clothes on my back. I found out about Deacons Closet, where I was able to get some clothes and blankets. In late September, I started sleeping at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless through their emergency program for flood victims.
One day while talking with Dee Dee, a case manager at Bridge House, she suggested I sign up for the Ready to Work program. I met with Tim, the Bridge House employment specialist, and he signed me up. I did my internship and soon I was on the crew. My first day was Nov. 11, 2013, and we picked up trash on and around the Pearl Street Mall.
Some of the other projects we would do were landscaping, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, chipping ice, building trails and chipping wood. We worked in all kinds of weather from 10 degrees to 95 degrees. Some days were harder than others. Everyone on the Ready to Work crew and Bridge House were very supportive. They were there for me for my successes as well as my failures.
Bridge House staff helped me get into the First Step program at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless. I was given a chore and guaranteed a bed every night. It felt good to be working again and moving in a positive direction. While with Ready to Work, I also met with my case manager and attended employment classes. In February 2014 my case manager told me about a grant I could apply for which would help pay for an apartment. I applied and received the short-term grant.
In May 2014 I moved into my apartment! That summer my case manager told me that Whole Foods Market was interested in hiring people from the program, one of the conditions being that the person be housed. I applied in August and started in early September 2014. I worked at the store on Pearl Street, starting out on the green team. I transferred to customer service in June 2015 as a cashier. In August 2016 I transferred to the store on Baseline. (Emphasis is mine — MRW)
I am full-time, have great benefits and I am paid a living wage and pay for my apartment totally on my own. I also am very fortunate to work with a lot of great people! Bridge House, Ready to Work and Whole Foods Market were there for me when I needed help. I am proud to say I am still involved with Bridge House and the Ready to Work program. I am on the board of directors for Bridge House and I am a mentor in the Ready to Work program. It feels good to give back to the Boulder community!
Jay Young lives in Boulder.
See the report in the Denver Post published on February 23, 2017: Whole Foods speeds up closing of Boulder store. Excerpt follows below:
Boulder shoppers will have a little less time than originally expected to say goodbye to one of the city’s Whole Foods Market locations.
The Baseline Road store, one of nine Whole Foods locations nationwide scheduled to shutter this spring, will close permanently at 6 p.m. Sunday, a company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.
The natural foods grocer had said it planned to keep the store open until April 9.
Indeed, I pass by this location on the SKIP bus twice every day (both southbound and northbound) and there is no longer even a sign to indicate that Whole Foods Market used to be there. And yet, Jay Young claims in the DC commentary above: “That summer [of 2014] my case manager told me that Whole Foods Market was interested in hiring people from the [Ready to Work] program, one of the conditions being that the person be housed. I applied in August and started in early September 2014. I worked at the store on Pearl Street, starting out on the green team. I transferred to customer service in June 2015 as a cashier. In August 2016 I transferred to the store on Baseline.” I guess we’re supposed to think that Mr. Young is still at the Baseline store.
Long ago, the Homeless Philosopher challenged the local shelter / services industry to come up with a single Success Story from any of the programs they operate . . . This is what they finally offer us? A transparently phony piece of work that insults the intelligence of anyone who is aware of what has happened with Whole Foods Market on Baseline here in Boulder.
It does NOT pass the smell test, and it’s indicative of the desperation the nonprofits must be feeling these days.