Matt talks to Mark Loranger, President and CEO of Chrysalis, a nonprofit devoted to helping people overcome barriers to employment and find and retain jobs.
The gentlemen discuss topics ranging from viable ways to help stem the homeless crisis in this country, as well as whether or not Matt’s Botox injections will make him look like George Hamilton in 10 years and if people working at foundations can outdrink them or not.
EPISODE #3, SEASON 2
So tell me a little bit about Chrysalis and what you guys do. What is the proudest thing that you can say that you do at Chrysalis that people should know?
Our work at Chrysalis is focused on helping individuals that have experienced, barriers to employment. Get back on what we call the pathway to self-sufficiency by finding and most importantly, retaining, employment. We don't pretend that a job is the answer to everything. In fact, the work that we do with our clients touches on essentially all aspects of their life, because that work has to be done in order to prepare them to have a career. But we do know that the dignity of work, the income that it provides, the ability to have that pride and sense of purpose in life, at least in our culture, a job is a key part of that. It's not the only thing, but it's a really important part of it. And we have found over the years that folks that have experienced homelessness or had interactions with the criminal justice system, they're often overlooked, the traditional systems for getting people back to work don't serve them well.
And that's why we exist. We are helping fill that service gap if you will. And I think the thing I'm most proud of is we really work with every single client, even though we'll work with 4,500 clients this year, every single one of them is an individual. Every single one has their own story. They've got their own goals, they've got their own challenges. And my team has found ways and develop techniques and had the perseverance to help work with each of those clients to help them address what they want to do, not what we think they should do, not what society thinks they should do, but what they feel they want and need to do. But maybe they just don't know how to go about doing it. But we do. We've got some experience in helping them overcome those challenges.
I think everybody has their own idea and their own, whatever they think homelessness is and how people become homeless. And those guys on the side of the freeway who are asking for money and "I need a job" I may have that cardboard sign. Can you tell us just maybe one story about one client that you had that you think might resonate with folks?
Yeah, this is a story I come back to often because I met him early in my time at Chrysalis. I refer to him as DJ Maze. He has another name, but this is what he refers to himself as, because his thing was, he liked to be a DJ. So he came through our program. He worked in one of our social enterprises and transitioned out to permanent employment, working for Metro. He was doing bus cleaning and clean work at night, but his real thing was she wanted to be a DJ. And over time he saved up enough money to have a DJ set up one and then two, and then like three for him and a cousin and a brother or something like that. So we had a little business going, and it'd been two years and he stopped by the office to say hello.
And he looked me up and he said, "Hey, Mark, can you hook me up with a certificate that shows that I completed the program?" "Sure. Happy to help you with that. Why do you need it?" "Well, my mom's getting married this weekend and I don't have the coin to get her a proper gift. But what I want to do is take the certificate and frame it and show her that I'm a different man today. And I really got my life going in the right direction." That's why we do what we do. It's not because he's getting a paycheck at Metro, which is great and benefits and all the rest of it. But it's because he can be part of his family now and he's got respect. And that, I think is the common denominator with all the folks that we serve.
They're not looking for anybody to take care of them there. They don't want to be on welfare. They don't want public support. They may need it to bridge to that next position, but they want to make their own way of life. They don't want to be dependent on people. And, it's easy for us in pop culture and with the news and what we see just driving down the street to form impressions about who are unhoused neighbors are, or who somebody is, who’s getting released from prison. I would encourage folks to maybe take a little time, pause and reflect and maybe talk to some of those folks and find out what their stories are because I guarantee you they're pretty darn compelling.