Phila. organization helps disadvantaged men find jobs

September 2, 2013 6:52:32 PM PDT
They are veterans, recovering substance abusers, the disabled and ex-offenders and they are all finding new futures with an organization called MenzFit.

35-year-old Damon Harris has returned home to Philadelphia after serving 13 years in federal prison.

He currently lives in a halfway house and is trying to find his way back to a better life.

With the help of Menzfit, he's able to start the process.

"I'm able to get a suit, do job training, they give me travel fare," said Harris.

The program has a host of volunteers and other organizations that help lead men like Harris to productive lives.

"I'm certified through CTS to be a forklift driver. I had a few interviews," said Harris.

Elamin Wilkins also lives in a halfway house, after serving six years in prison.

"It's not an easy job coming back to society and maintaining without the help of others," said Wilkins.

On this day, he's looking for shoes to go with the gray suit he's chosen for a mock job interview that night.

In their mock interviews, Harris and Wilkins test the techniques they've learned with MenzFit.

Rhonda Willingham founded this program in Washington, D.C. in 2001 then brought it home to Philadelphia six years ago.

It started with just the clothing service, but she's added a full career development service as well.

"We really want to take more of a holistic approach to how we help these guys, not only with their jobs but as they navigate through life," said Willingham.

MenzFit recognizes that men need the same employment and supportive services that have long been made available to women.

For more on this organization visit: MenzFit.org.


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