by Ahren Cassinari-Foster
As the Main Frame Coordinator, it can be discouraging when class turnout is small. I recently ran into this issue. Upon my wife and I’s return from vacation, staff at the OAC profoundly struggled to sign people up for the May Main Frame class. After two orientation sessions and two weeks of trying we finally got one student!
At first, I was disheartened by the low turnout. I know there are more people out there on the streets, in our lobby, and staying at emergency shelters who need the services we provide in the Main Frame. I want them to come and work with us to find employment and begin the journey to self-sufficiency.
I still feel all of those things as we wrap up the second week of Main Frame class. However, I feel something else as well. I feel grateful for the one student I do have. As with so many of the people we see, Mr. A recently became homeless due to a confluence of difficult circumstances. A few months ago, Mr. A and his wife financially assisted a family member who had fallen sick. When Mr. A lost his job shortly thereafter, they were unable to absorb the financial blow and were evicted from their apartment. Despite these significant challenges, Mr. A has been a dedicated and conscientious student and a quick learner. In his first two weeks of class he has completed a resume, revamped his computer skills, and applied for several jobs, three of which have contacted him for an interview!
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Numbers are easy to understand, they tell us if we are growing or shrinking, and many other useful things as well. But what I was missing out on when I was focused on the number of people in the class was the quality of the one person who was actually taking the class. There may just be one Mr. A in this class, but he is having a full class worth of success.
EDIT: Mr. A got a job! The week after graduating from Main Frame, Mr. A was hired by a hotel downtown. Mr. A has worked in hospitality for most of his life, so this is exactly the type of job he hoped to secure! We are so proud of him and grateful that we were able to help him take steps toward employment. We are excited that he and his wife are now back on the road to stability.