By Joe Vigil
LAS VEGAS (KVVU) – Life on the streets was tough for Scott Mitchell.
âWhen you are on the streets, you live a miserable existence. And you’re either too hot or too cold, too sad, too angry, âMitchell said.
Mitchell spent approximately four years living at the intersection of Owens Avenue and Main Street in Las Vegas. He said he used methamphetamine to escape the harshness of homelessness. He ended up in jail after stealing a car on a cold February day to stay warm.
âAn incident of great violence happened about 50 yards in front of me, and someone was killed,â Mitchell said. “I think that was the singular moment where ‘Scott, you have to make better choices.'”
One of those top choices was to enroll in the Chosen for Success professional training program. This is a non-profit organization that offers four days of professional training and other types of support, including âEmotional Intelligenceâ training, which helps participants cope with past trauma and overcome their emotions. .
âAnd when we combine the two, they’re not only able to get a job, but they’re also able to keep that job,â said Rodney Taylor, executive director of Chosen for Success.
Professional training also comes with job placement, including job fairs after participants graduate. People also get mentorship and the program will continue to follow graduates for a year.
âI would say about 40% of our employees are similar to Scott. We have had about 100 people who have gone through our program so far with incredible success, âsaid Rodney Tayor.
Taylor says about 80% of people who take the program find jobs within the first two weeks after graduation.
Through some networking programs, Mitchell got an interview at the Sparrow and Wolf restaurant. Managing partner John Anthony said Mitchell not only read information about the restaurant but also talked about the managers, studied the food he serves, asked about the ingredients and even the inspiration behind the food. .
âI’ve been interviewing for a manager in the last three months and I can tell you about 90% of them haven’t done a lot of research,â Anthony said.
Anthony said the team leaders were fully aware of Mitchell’s criminal history.
âI’ve always struggled with ‘have you ever been convicted of a crime’ on an application form. Because again, I think everyone deserves the opportunity to show who they are right now and not necessarily where they are from, âsaid Anthony.
âGod bless him, he gave me an opportunity. It is very difficult for criminals to obtain sustainable paid employment opportunities, âsaid Mitchell.
Anthony said he hoped other food and drink outlets would reach out and see the program as a viable resource.
âThere is a huge population that wants to work. We just have to be able to forgive and then move on, âsaid Anthony.
Taylor said program participants are supported by about 50 volunteers, 13 other nonprofits and 20 corporate partners. He said that while Chosen for Success works with donations, Taylor hopes to secure grants to help even more people succeed.
Mitchell is now in a sober living unit, but said he would be leaving in March and saving for rent. He started a GoFundMe to find accommodation. He said he was proud of himself and grateful to Chosen for Success and Sparrow and Wolf.
âThank you for giving me the chance to prove myself, to redeem myself for many years of bad choices. But I’m trying to make the right choices now,â Mitchell said.
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