Bank of America donates $1 million to Camillus House’s JOB ProgramRichard Sargent recalls having a strong fascination for technology and gadgets as a teenager, so much so that he hoped to pursue a career in the tech field. But a series of unfortunate events in his 20s led to a very different future.
Following his mother’s death from cancer, Sargent’s life spiraled out of control, leaving him homeless by the age of 30.
“My mother’s passing shook me to the core, and I went off the deep end. I used that as an excuse to throw my life away,” Sargent said.
After 10 years of living in the streets of Miami, sometimes under the MacArthur Causeway, he recalls having a moment of clarity that eventually led to seeking help from Camillus House, a non-profit agency that provides humanitarian services to poor and homeless men, women and children in Miami-Dade County.
“Admitting to myself that I was an alcoholic and an addict was hard to swallow, but I knew that I needed to make a change,” he said.
Following treatment and rehabilitation, Sargent enrolled in Camillus House’s Job Opportunity Bureau program (JOB Program) that later allowed him to obtain a full-time job at the Downtown Development Authority as a supervisor. He also is currently working on getting a degree in computer information and technology at Miami Dade College.
Sargent is just one of many people who have turned away from the streets to remake their lives and join the workforce after training at the JOB Program.
Now, thanks to a $1 million grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the program is expanding its resources and capabilities with plans to build a dedicated building at the new Camillus House campus to serve clients in this program.
“There’s no doubt that our community is committed to ending chronic homelessness, and part of the solution is to provide folks like Richard Sargent a pathway to developing key skills that make them employable,” said Gene Schaefer, Miami president for Bank of America.
This donation was the lead corporate contribution received by Camillus House toward the construction of its new campus. The large grant will expand the existing JOB Program, which offers homeless or formerly homeless people the opportunity to achieve their educational, vocational and employment goals.
“Our goal is to treat these folks, get them the rehabilitation they need to get back on their feet and start working,” said Paul R. Ahr, president and CEO of Camillus House. “Because of their past and years on the street, it can be hard for them to find a job on their own, but that’s where we step in and help open doors.”