By Barbara Hughes | ACSS Volunteeer
This is the first in a series of blogs that will profile the ACSS staff.
I love volunteering with ACSS in whatever capacity I can be the most help. I’ve often wondered about the staff. I know them, of course. But what drives them to do what they do every day, often in a difficult environment? The best way to find out was to talk to each one and I thought I would share what they told me about working at ACSS.
Gordon Ellis is ACSS’ Employment Director. But I like to think of him as a force of nature: boundless energy and enthusiasm, brimming with ideas and with an ever-present smile. He sees his role as relationship building, both with prospective employers and with the VIPs (Visionary Innovative Partners) ACSS serves. Mostly, Gordon wants the VIPs to know that they have an advocate.
He came to ACSS via the Fulton County Human Services agency, working on the welfare-to-work program for single moms. On his first day at ACSS, he was thrown in at the deep end by leading his first CareerWorks workshop. But I don’t think that fazed him one bit!
You won’t find Gordon using the word “homeless” to describe the VIPs. He uses terms such as “in transition” or “hitting a speed bump,” but never the “H-word.” His other pet peeve is when a VIP describes him or herself as “just,” as in “just a truck driver” or “just a housekeeper in a hotel.” So the workshops Gordon runs are designed to give the attendees confidence and change their mindset about being a “just.” Mock interviews and resume writing are two components of Gordon’s workshops. He invites local businesses to participate, which lends an air of reality.
He has developed 35 to 40 close business partnerships with local businesses. Many participated in the third annual Job Fair held in February and Gordon described it as a big success. The results are still coming in but he said that right now, 20 to 25 VIPs have secured jobs and several more are still interviewing. This, at the end of the day, is what ACSS is all about: jobs.
Many businesses will be attending the third annual Job Week during the week of May 13th at ACSS’ offices in midtown. Each day will feature an industry, such as security, warehousing, administration and retail. Each business will provide an overview followed by Q&A with the VIPs. The prospective employers provide notes following informal interviews and then official interviews are scheduled.
I asked Gordon what his personal vision for ACSS was. Without hesitation, he said, “to go out of business.” Isn’t that a vision we all can share?
Come join us! Donate. Volunteer. You can help ACSS break the cycle of homelessness.