Marcell Ford wanted a fresh start when he moved to St. Louis from Savannah, Georgia in November 2015. He was unemployed and only knew a few people in the city. Today, Marcell is a Job & Leadership Training graduate and an employee with Swiss American through our employment agency Hire St. Louis.

When we first met Marcell, he was in desperate need of employment and hesitant to apply for JLT. After speaking with his parole officer and getting encouragement from his family, he decided to apply. From the courses on community health with BJC Healthcare to financial literacy with Wells Fargo and United Way of Greater St. Louis, he says the program helps build a foundation for skills needed to maintain a stable life. His favorite portion of JLT is the course on Biblical manhood, where his interest in leadership principles began to grow. Within a matter of weeks, we began to notice his personal development as he began to speak more in class and give his opinion during group discussions. Naturally reserved, these courses empowered Marcell to open up to his classmates and other people around him. By graduation, he felt as though he formed a network of brothers.

Now he is an assembly worker for Swiss American. Before officially being offered the position, Marcell had a confident feeling that he’d be working for the company beyond his internship. He was trained by employers to operate the assembly line, which helped him perform his job duties efficiently. Each week, he received impressive evaluations and was offered the position before his internship ended. His hard work also earned him an excellence award at graduation. Marcell says the flexible hours and good environment are the best parts of his job.

Accomplishing the goal to become a full-time employee at Swiss American motivates Marcell to stay focused. He continues to work hard and seek the change he relocated for. Recently, he signed his first lease and has obtained health insurance. Using the skills taught in JLT, he wants to be an inspiration for his family members, particularly his four children, showing them that change is possible despite one’s past. Upon graduation, he has sat another goal to enroll in college. Outside of working, Marcell enjoys fishing, barbecuing and attending King’s House Church where he serves as an usher.

Our JLT students are motivated by transformation. Like Marcell, some students may be hesitant to commit to the program initially, but are hopeful for a positive outcome. Our students are empowered through the lessons taught and skills learned during the 8-week training, which results in more leaders in our community. Helping these men change would not be possible without the efforts of our volunteers and donors, who offer countless amounts of time into transforming their lives.

If you’re interested in helping build leaders in our city by volunteering and preparing meals in our Job & Leadership Training, please contact Jasmin Johnson, jasmin.johnson@missionstl.org.