Earlier this summer, our alumni Jimmy joined me on the phone for a conversation about getting started with ManifestWorks, the hard work that has landed him back to back gigs since the Spring and how it felt to take his first two week vacation without any stress in years. Read Jimmy’s story below!
Jimmy generously jumps on the phone as he drives out towards Barstow on his way to pick up his 14-year old daughter. He has two weeks off - the first break in six weeks of straight work - something he doesn’t take for granted.
He greets me on the phone with a cheerful, “Hello - I’m an open book - what do you want to know?” I tell him, “Everything, but let’s start at the beginning.”
Jimmy had been living out of his car for four months when he decided he needed to seek treatment. He describes the time as “scary” and a time when things went from bad to worse quickly. “I felt like I was snapping,” says Jimmy, “I was definitely fighting my own battle with alcohol and drugs. In a short time, I quit my job, left my home and started living in my car - pretending everything was ok.”
Luckily, Jimmy got himself into a treatment program. It was after a month at The Van Ness Recovery House when he heard about The Giving Keys, a for-profit jewelry company that employs people who have been homeless to help them transition into the workforce.
On his first day there, Jimmy remembers, “I walked in an immediately they gave me a key with a word on it. I chose HOPE because that is what I needed. The second I sat down I just had this feeling that this place was going to be a part of my (successful) recovery and my life.”
“So a few months later, Dan walks in to the offices, in early 2019, and explains the opportunity of ManifestWorks to us. He is talking all about the entertainment industry, freelancing, and working as a production assistant. After he left, everyone was like ‘Jimmy - this program is so you - you have to do it.’ So I applied - and was accepted.”
Jimmy started ManifestWorks in the Spring of 2019. He took it seriously - especially the pieces about networking, showing up on time (early) and demonstrating that he was a hard worker. Early into the program, he got his first chance to work on set. “I have to thank Dan for giving me that first shot. I did everything he and the team told me to do, but mostly by proving myself on set. And it has worked. I’ve been working on a series of Capital One commercials ever since.”
Since starting ManifestWorks program, Jimmy has been consistently working. From that first commercial gig, other gigs have come up. He has been able to branch out and work on more projects, “I’ve been lucky to get more work. I listened to what they said at ManifestWorks and it’s proven - you can be a full-time freelance worker.”
As we begin to wrap the call, I ask Jimmy what working as a full-time freelance production assistant has afforded him. He quickly tells me, “Oh everything. I get to spend time with my daughter. It has given me the opportunity to make my own schedule. It has boosted my confidence and self-worth. I’m able to do things financially that I wasn’t able to do before like build a savings cushion or take a vacation.”
Jimmy is an all-star and we are so proud of all he has achieved. He is hard-working and motivated, like the roughly 200 other participants that have been served over the last five years. Roughly 54% have experienced homelessness and enter the program under- or unemployed, earning only about $285 per week. After graduating our program, 93% of our participants report working full-time and earning nearly $61,000 annually.
This program works and it is our honor that we get to work alongside people like Jimmy who are busy making possibilities happen for themselves.