At ICS, we are committed not only to serving our guests, but also to employing them. I am a firm believer that if we are going to encourage other employers to hire our guests, the shelter should be the number one employer on the list. Currently, we have seven former guests employed with us. They earn anywhere from Santa Fe’s living wage to $18/hour.

Too often, I hear people in the community complain that our guests are lazy and just need to get a job. If only it were that easy! Employing former guests is just the beginning of a process of helping them heal from the trauma of homelessness, and the numerous traumas that may have led to homelessness in the first place.

I wrote about this issue for the New Mexican last fall. Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a story about a company employing people who formerly experienced homelessness.

Supportive employment is about helping formerly homeless individuals stabilize their lives and re-establish themselves as working citizens, as productive members of our community. Without a lot of support, many of our former guest employees could not, at least initially, succeed in the workforce.

Employment is a long-term commitment and involves taking the time and effort to invest in another human being. In the end, isn’t that our mission with ALL of the people we serve?