Everybody could use some lifting up at times in their lives. The Denver Day Works project was a resounding success, assisting homeless people with securing employment and getting them back on their feet after falling on hard times. Jeffrey Maes was one of the participants in the program, a man who lost everything after his businesses failed. After four years of being homeless, he tried the Denver Day Works program and found not only a job, but a sense of pride. Getting started in the program earned him a full-time job retrofitting lights at the city’s Central Library, The Denver Post reports.
Mayor Michael Hancock spoke of the first year of the project at a recent press conference, explaining that they exceeded most of their goals. Launched in November 2016, Denver Human Services reported that 284 people worked at least a day and all but 10 people working longer, on a number of job assignments. 110 people, included Maes, found full-time employment, with 15 people securing permanent or project-based city jobs. Others found employment with private and public employers.
Maes explained how thankful he was for the opportunity the program provided, noting:
“When you take a good person (who’s) down, broken, discouraged, and you give them an opportunity to be proud of their self — to stand up and do something for their self — that’s one of the greatest gifts anybody can give to anybody. And for that, I’d like to say thank you.”
Contractor Bayaud Enterprises runs Denver Day Works, which organizes work crews three days a week and will begin adding a fourth day soon, followed by further expansion later in the year. The program also plans to expand to offer more work opportunities that will attract women, minorities and the disabled. Denver Day Works goes beyond just work assignments, as the contractor also connected participants with housing providers and supplied lunches that were donated by restaurants.
Participants were paid more than $12 an hour at the end of each shift.
Hancock explained that the success of the program “shows what we’ve known all along — that people experiencing homelessness are no different” from other city residents. “They are hungry for the opportunity to work hard to achieve their personal dreams and to take their self-sufficiency in their own hands.”
Interestingly, though successful, the University of Colorado Denver’s Center on Network Science further reviewed the program and found that only 57 of the 110 participants hired for regular jobs retained those jobs for more than 90 days. Danielle Varda, an associate professor at CU Denver explained: “One of the things that we learned was how difficult it is for folks to transition from being homeless to… being expected to be at work five days a week, when you may not even have a place to put your stuff every day.”
Many of those people who commented on The Denver Post’s coverage of the story were impressed with the program and the opportunities given, with one commenter noting: “Thank you to all of those individuals who took the initiative and sought work hoping to make a better life for themselves. Congratulations and thank you to all of those who extended a helping hand to these folks and helped them get back on their feet.”