Kenneth and Derrell

Back on his feet, with options in sight

Kenneth and DerrellKenneth Mitchell accepted a full-time job last Friday. He hosted and cooked dinner for friends on Saturday. Before his first day on the job earlier this week, he opened his closet and pondered multiple options to wear.

“It’s like, ‘wow, I have options,’” Mitchell said. “It’s nothing but for the grace of God.”

As recently as two months ago, Mitchell was homeless and unemployed, with “nothing but the clothes on my back,” he said. The options he debated at that time were reaching out to a local church for help or returning to his hometown of Detroit “and finding an abandoned building to sleep in.”

He chose the church, and it led him to CityLink Center and Cincinnati Works.

About a year ago, Mitchell heard Pastor James Strayhorn of Bright Star Community Church discuss the value of the job readiness program at Cincinnati Works. Strayhorn is a board member at Cincinnati Works and a staff member at CityLink Center, and his church is a beacon of hope in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Kenneth Mitchell bell ringingIt took a few months before Mitchell was willing to act on what he heard – “because of my hard-headedness,” he said with a laugh – but last fall he re-engaged with the church, and he enrolled at CityLink Center the next day. From there, he was connected with Derrell Black, a Professional Development Coach at Cincinnati Works in our CityLink office. They worked on his resume and interview skills.

Shortly thereafter, Mitchell was evicted from his apartment. He bounced among temporary housing, frequently staying at the Bright Star youth center in Over-the-Rhine, until he found an apartment in Reading in December 2018. He immediately began canvassing neighborhood businesses, putting his interview skills to work, and he was hired full-time at a Family Dollar store within walking distance of his apartment.

“It isn’t a dream job, but it is helping me get back on my feet,” Mitchell said. “CityLink helped me with furniture. Church members helped me with many different things I needed. It’s comfortable there now. It has been quite an interesting turn of events.”

Mitchell stopped by Cincinnati Works on a recent day off to ring the bell in celebration of the new job. He plans to remain in contact with Black and the other organizations at CityLink Center. His next goal is to regain his driver’s license, then save money for a car and a larger apartment.