Last year we met a friend named James. James has more determination and drive than I could ever dream of having. His faith and hope are inspirational.
James is a man in his fifties, and he was referred to us by a friend of Behind Every Door. At the time, James was living in very terrible conditions in an apartment community in Southern Dallas. He was very behind on his rent, without a job, and losing hope.
In our first conversation with James, we asked him to make his way to Park Cities Presbyterian Church to ask for emergency assistance. PCPC is very generous in this way, but this resource is also a way to determine how desperate someone is. They must show up in person, and often people in poverty do not have a car – this was the situation James was in, so he needed to find bus money and make his way there. James called me a few hours later and said he was standing at the desk at PCPC.
From this point, we began to pursue two parallel paths: Per Scholas job training and the PCPC Equip program. The Equip program is a comprehensive program where a PCPC member will walk alongside the Equip applicant to provide counseling, budgeting help, encouragement, and larger, more strategic financial assistance. The other path, Per Scholas, is a group that trains people to work in IT jobs. Per Scholas has strong relationships with larger companies like AT&T, and they are able to provide training for specific jobs these companies are looking to fill. The average starting annual salary of a graduate was $30,000 in 2015. The program lasts ten weeks and requires participants to attend classes all day, Monday to Friday. At that point, most participants are places in a job within two to four weeks. So, we needed ongoing financial support so James work with Per Scholas. Thankfully, PCPC was willing to work with James and with Behind Every Door, and the journey began.
Throughout his time in Per Scholas, James met weekly in our office with two PCPC members. They distributed funds for rent and food, discussed spending habits and budgeting, and provided ongoing counseling. Behind Every Door was also able to support James by working with owners in one of our communities to secure him more stable housing. Additionally, our staff prayed with James, invited him to attend our Bible studies, and revealed the love of Jesus in a number of ways. James also had access to our partners, such as Dallas Furniture Bank, which we leveraged to help James furnish his new apartment.
After 10 weeks, James graduated from Per Scholas with a job! It required multiple people and entities all pulling in the same direction, and this is what Behind Every Door does well: coordinate experts for the benefit of someone who is marginalized!
Today, James is still employed by Taylor Farms, working in their IT department. He is living in The Hive apartment community and supportive of our work there. He is connected to a wonderful couple who continue to walk alongside him. He is engaged to be married, and they are currently saving each month to pay for a cruise for their honeymoon.