Focus:Hope Puts People on the Road to Success
How do you save a life? Or how do you put someone on the path to success when they’re headed down a road to nowhere? The late Eleanor Josaitis may have been asking those questions when she started Focus:Hope 43 years ago.
Russell Taylor, a married father of 7 is one of the people who has benefited from the work Focus:Hope does every day. He grew up in Chicago and told us, “For the majority of my life I was a gangbanger.” He has been shot in the face, stabbed in the head and suffered many other battle scars.
Russell says he was through with education until he ran into Focus:Hope, “Focus:Hope revived me. I was terrible at math. Now I’m doing trigonometry everyday.”
Tim Duperrin, Focus:Hope Chief Operating Officer, told us their placement rate for all their programs over the past six years is 72%. That’s because people trust Focus:Hope. He says, “People come here. They don’t want to put up with all that we put them through. They want a job. And so the things that we focus on are not just the technical skills, it’s all the other things that an employer wants to see.”
Focus:Hope has started a brand new program in July called “Earn and Learn”. They target young minority men between ages 18 and 24, but anyone is welcome. Students go through a four week work readiness program then they get a part time job and continue their training at Focus:Hope.
Zavorio Jackson is a student in the “Earn and Learn” program. After high school he enlisted in the Air Force. A year later he’s at Focus:Hope with a mission in mind. Zavorio says, “I’m looking into saving lives after I leave here and I hope to be in some type of medical program. I’m going for my RN, and from there I’m hoping to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Dress shirts and pants are mandatory. So is being on time. Excuses like, “I missed the bus” don’t cut it when you’re late here.
Julian Pate is Education Director. He spent 30 years at Ford as an engineer. Then, after a speech at Focus:Hope, Julian got a tap on the shoulder from Eleanor Josaitis. She wanted him to play an important role at Focus:Hope. 15 years later he is still inspiring young people.
Pate says, “I think for many in our community, engineering is viewed as a career that is unachievable, fundamentally because people get concerned about mathematics.” But he says he’s living proof that you don’t have to be Einstein to become an engineer.
Russell Taylor is now a plant supervisor for Webber Automotive, a German based company with plans to hire 50 more Focus:Hope graduates thanks to Russell’s track record. Russell says he’s glad he can help others, and is thankful for the help he received, “Words can’t express how grateful I am to be a Focus:Hope graduate and to have to opportunity to have learned what they’ve taught me. I’m just thankful.”
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