For homeless men and women, getting hired can be a daunting task – even when Hawaii boasts the lowest unemployment rate in the nation.
But thanks to volunteer efforts by 16 Chaminade University students, finding gainful employment got easier for homeless individuals who attended the 13th annual Job Preparation Workshop conducted by the Hogan Entrepreneurs Program.
Leading the event were Chaminade instructor and Hogan board member Denny McDonough, along with Ed Nakamura, an employment specialist with the Institute for Human Services nonprofit organization.
Students helped attendees with interviewing techniques, shared information about job resources and created resumes that were sent to more than 500 potential employers.
The homeless people were “eager to learn,” said volunteer Savannah Lyn Delos Santos, a junior preparing for a career in business marketing.
“They were all hungry for growth and it was so evident in their actions, curiosity and enthusiasm,” Delos Santos said. “I gave my business card to a few participants and told them to keep me updated on the progress of their job hunt.”
Among the challenges in conducting the workshop, Delos Santos said, was assisting attendees with limited English skills. A personal challenge, she said, was witnessing the pain and desperation of homeless people struggling to survive.
“Many of them shared the stories of their lives and what led to their homelessness,” she said. “It made me happy to know that I was making a difference, but also sad that many people do not get the chance to see what life is like on the other side.
“While most of society shuns them because they have nothing, they are just doing what they can to move forward and rise up. They made me realize how sometimes one chance is all someone needs to create a better life for both them and their families.”
Other students volunteering for the workshop were: Monique Gomes, Bonita Dydasco, Mokihana Maldonado, Clarke Velasco, Caitlin Martinez, Sarah Cervantes, Fabian Patterson,
Jackie McGreal, Antonio Bonnetty, Ally Alvarez-Stratton, Chris Ortiz, Grant Okazaki, Nate Cassion, Taletha Manigo and Tyler Taydus.
The Hogan Entrepreneurs Program provides Chaminade students with the knowledge, skills, motivation and networking opportunities to succeed in business ventures. This one- or two-year certificate program is open to all students, regardless of their majors. The Hogan motto is: “Doing business things that make social sense. Doing social things that make business sense.”