When the Economy Stalled, They Needed Laptops to Move Ahead - 2 minutes read


He knew his criminal record would be a hindrance to finding lucrative work. “A person like me, who would love to work a decent job, will never have the chance because of my criminal history,” Mr. McCollum said. “I can’t blame anybody but myself.”

But a career helping others seemed fitting after his experiences in prison, as well as achievable, so in March, he signed up to begin training to become a substance abuse counselor.

At the same time, he was living with his mother in Corona, Queens; making plans to marry his fiancée, who had waited for him for 18 years; and waiting for the training program to begin. Then the Covid-19 lockdown struck New York. The abrupt halt in his progress was a nasty sting.

New York City’s economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the unemployment rate around 20 percent. Mr. McCollum, who receives $165 in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, had done odd jobs to get by.

With his dream of becoming a counselor paused, Mr. McCollum turned to his parole officer for help finding work, which brought him to the Hope Program, an affiliate of Community Service Society. The society is a beneficiary agency of The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

The Hope Program offers job training to adults in marginalized and underserved communities, including those with criminal backgrounds. When the lockdown began, the program switched to a remote curriculum and lent laptops to participants so they could continue courses and connect to online job boards, said Linda Nguyen, director of digital literacy.

As Mr. McCollum’s job search continued, the society used $358 in Neediest Cases funds to buy a laptop for him, freeing up a loaner for another Hope Program client.

Source: New York Times

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Elvie Technology
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