Some 40,000 Houstonians experienced homelessness in the past year, with lack of education, joblessness and mental illness all contributing to the rising epidemic of people living on the street. SEARCH Homeless Services (SEARCH) was founded in 1989 as a way to help the growing number of Houston’s homeless transition into jobs and stable housing.
In 2010, The Bank of America (BAC) Charitable Foundation began providing financial support to SEARCH; then in 2011, the bank awarded SEARCH its Neighborhood Builder award, recognizing the positive impact of the organization on Houston’s homeless community.
What’s more, BAC employees regularly volunteer to teach financial skills classes to SEARCH’s clients, as well as provide career services, such as resume building and interview preparation. These skills have helped individuals and families gain the workforce training necessary to transition out of homelessness.
According to SEARCH Homeless Services President and CEO Thao Costis, “Bank of America’s high-energy volunteers are using their expertise to teach our clients how to interview for jobs, how to dress for the workplace, and how to present themselves in a way to secure a job. They’re also teaching us about leadership, not just for top leaders in our organization but for all of our managers. It’s a great win-win for us.”
Since receiving the bank’s Neighborhood Builder award, SEARCH has been able to reach even more individuals to provide the workforce development and training necessary to transition out of homelessness and into housing and jobs that pay their rent and feed their families.
“It’s been incredible to be part of Bank of America’s volunteer work with SEARCH Homeless Services,” said Michael Delgatto, the bank’s consumer market manager and lead volunteer. “We’ve had an opportunity to teach life skills like opening a bank account and saving money, and how to get a job and pay bills. To see these folks take what we taught them and turn their lives around is very rewarding. Recently, I was invited back to speak at a SEARCH Homeless Services graduation ceremony, and it really made me proud of the difference that we’re making in our community.”
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