As a student in our Summer Job & Leadership Training, Brandon spends most of the day attending classes and working an internship at Cintas. He engages in class discussions, takes pages of notes and receives impressive evaluations from his supervisors. To help make ends meet, Brandon also works a 9-hour shift overnight at a temporary job. Regardless of his busy schedule, he maintains a positive attitude with a smile that uplifts everyone around him. Brandon’s eagerness to learn and grow can describe him as determined: “This is the brightest part of my day,” he says about his time in JLT through a grin.
Yet, a word he never imagined being called is homeless.
In 2013, a lawsuit from a car accident left Brandon with very little money, losing everything he owned. From then on, he had difficulty maintaining a job to keep a steady income. Growing up with a family in poverty, Brandon was accustomed to living with little, but he never imagined not having a place to call home. Today, Brandon is living in his car, calling the past several years the lowest point of his life.
But Brandon’s reality isn’t stopping him from moving forward.
It was Brandon’s younger brother, a JLT graduate, who introduced him to the program. Brandon made the decision to apply after recognizing his brother’s change upon graduating. Since starting class, he’s learned job-readiness skills, including how to create a resume and what questions to ask during a job interview; he created a bank account through St. Louis Community Credit Union and he’s grown deeper in his faith through Biblical manhood. Job & Leadership Training has given Brandon a real view of life and something to live for: “It keeps my hope alive,” he adds.
Growing a trusting relationship with his mentor, Brad, has also helped Brandon remain hopeful. One experience Brandon recalls is going to a brewery with Brad to try different types of beers, something he wouldn’t normally do with friends. Brad, a first-time mentor, describes Brandon as joyful, admiring the positive attitude Brandon maintains despite his current circumstances. Together, they’ve been able to recognize their similarities and use those traits to build an impactful relationship: “He has a natural heart for leadership and the right mind for success in life. If he continues with a mindset of humility as he moves forward, he will have the opportunity to help others who look up to him,” Brad says about Brandon.
Overall, it’s hope that motivates Brandon to continue achieving his personal and professional goals. He defines it as purpose, happiness and, most importantly, God. He divides this belief into little hopes and big hopes, which he describes as short-term goals that helps him achieve a long-term goal. One little hope he has achieved is becoming a JLT graduate, which he plans to use the skills he’s learned in class to achieve his big hope of becoming a boxing promoter and business owner. In his spare time, Brandon visits the library to read his favorite genre, nonfiction; works with his hands on do-it-yourself projects and writes to clear his mind. Another big hope Brandon plans to achieve is visiting Africa to see the sculptures he’s often read about.
Despite his current situation, the contagious smile he wears daily and the concrete plans he has for his future can only describe Brandon in one word – a survivor: “I just want to be great and be an example for somebody,” he says.
Like Brandon, many of our Job & Leadership Training students are dealing with issues that make it difficult to perform at their best. While attending classes several days a week, many students also work multiple jobs to provide for their families. Through relationships with our volunteers, who encourage and support them to keep moving forward, our students are empowered to achieve their goals, transform their lives and be the leaders our city needs.
If you’re interested in impacting the lives of students like Brandon, please complete a volunteer form here.
If you’re a business looking to provide opportunity for our Job & Leadership Training students, please contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.