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Volunteering Led To “Lifesaving” Job


Charles, a single father struggling to care for his young daughter for whom he has full custody, had been trying to secure a job for about two years when his luck finally changed.

“A lot of times I asked Jesus, ‘Why?’ Why I can’t provide for my daughter? Why I can’t help my mom? It was rough. I asked God why a whole lot of times within that time frame of looking for a job. I see why now. Everything happens for a reason.”

Charles had to first start as a volunteer for the rescue mission through San Bernardino County’s Welfare-to-Work Program in hopes that it would turn into paid employment. Charles was placed at the thrift store and volunteered doing “whatever they needed me to do.”

“I just kept at it,” he said. “I just didn’t give up. I just wanted to be better than my dad. I wanted to be better than the people I was raised around. Because having two parents on drugs, they just leave you with anybody. You see crazy stuff when you’re raised by people that don’t have your best interests at heart.”

The men from the mission come to work at the store everyday as part of their recovery program and Charles began to forge relationships with some of them. “Jesse is almost like a younger brother,” Charles said. “I try to talk to him that way. When he says something to me that I don’t think is a good idea, I just try to talk to him and give him my opinion. Give him direction.” After less than six months, Charles was hired on as staff.

“Growing up, I never got picked for anything,” he said. “I never got picked for the football teams, I never got picked for baseball. When I went through this process, I’m telling my mom, ‘They picked me, Mom.’ Finally somebody picks me. And I’m going to make them proud they picked me.”

Charles said his work has helped in ways beyond a paycheck. “It’s just opened my eyes to a lot of things,” said Charles of working at the thrift store. “It could’ve been my situation as far as the guys that live in the rescue mission. And when someone comes in and asks for a blanket, your heart starts… you start having compassion for people.”

When asked to describe the mission, Charles had two words: “Compassionate and lifesaving.”

“Even as far as my situation, it was lifesaving,” Charles said seriously. “I needed a job. Sometimes it’s just a blanket that people need. That could be what can keep a person from going over the edge.”

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