Once homeless, Gabriel now works in high tech
A prompting to walk out in the middle of sacrament meeting was one Scott Fisher felt he should follow. As he exited the building and gazed at the parking lot, a young woman caught his eye. Her slow pace and bowed face signaled her plight and need. Feeling empathy, Scott gave her everything he had in his pocket, a one-dollar bill.
A light came to the young woman’s face. A conversation ensued, and Scott learned that Odette was once active in the LDS Church but had made poor decisions. They in turn had led her to unfortunate conditions. Scott invited Odette to return to church the next Sunday. She said she would and promised to bring her boyfriend.
The next Sunday, Odette showed up with her boyfriend, Gabriel. Scott discovered that Gabriel and Odette were both unemployed and homeless. As a result, Gabriel’s son had been placed in foster care. Scott also found that Gabriel had a unique talent: repairing cell phones for homeless people.
Gabriel discovered his knack for electronics repair when he cracked the screen of his cell phone. He had money for a new screen, but he did not have the money to pay someone to fix it. Gabriel watched videos on YouTube and soon learned how to rebuild a smartphone.
Scott arranged for Gabriel to work at Deseret Industries to provide needed income and boost his communication skills. “I got that job when I needed it the most,” said Gabriel. “After four years of unemployment, it was the first time I had a job where I started to progress and earn money.” Living on the streets and sharing a room in a homeless shelter had been really tough on Gabriel and his girlfriend.
After Gabriel settled into the Deseret Industries training, Scott presented him with another opportunity, this time at LDS Business College. In 2015, the College started a new program called Corporate Connect. It builds relationships with individual companies that need well-trained, high-quality employees to execute specific tasks. The College then creates courses to teach those skills to motivated students. In return, the companies guarantee graduating students an interview, with the potential to start a job earning a wage that will help them be self-sufficient.
One of the partner companies was Unisys, an information technology company that traces its 143-year history back to 1873 to the first commercial typewriter. Today, the company specializes in data security, data center operations, and technical support services. It was the latter specialty that Gabriel hoped would be a perfect fit for his newfound tech talent. “I was homeless and I needed to move ahead,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel’s education consisted of four hours of online education each week for 12 weeks. Three weeks before he finished the course, he attended LDSBC to learn the hard skills required to work for Unisys. Corporate Connect helped him learn the qualifications needed to get an interview and apply for a stable job with multiple benefits. He also learned about his personal strengths and gospel principles that helped him have confidence in God and himself.
Gabriel completed the Corporate Connect training, interviewed with Unisys, and was hired.
“I was afraid I would never get off the streets and out of poverty,” he said, “and the Unisys opportunity was everything I hoped for. I really wanted to do something productive with my life.”
Gabriel has now worked for Unisys for over 14 months. At times, the whole experience has seemed incredible as he sees he finally has the opportunity he needed. He has regained financial stability and had his son returned to him. Life has promise.
“LDSBC and its training gave Gabriel the opportunity to make a living wage and support his family,” said Scott. “He now has a career that will increase his abilities to serve and provide for his family.”
Through his work, Gabriel is now capable of helping others in technical support. He now sees and understands the importance of getting an education. He hopes to continue that in the future. He also hopes to educate more people about Corporate Connect so they can get off the streets. “I want to show them that they do have a chance,” he said. “If they are willing to work and learn, doors can open for them.”