Second chances

A place for second chances

By Brenda Mahr

Did you knowAfrican-American males have a 32 percent lifetime chance of going to prison, that 11 percent of homeless adults are veterans and one in five experiencing homelessness have a serious mental illness or conditions related to chronic substance abuse? 

Did you know approximately 17,375 offenders found in the St. Louis area face reentry challenges which include housing, employment, education and mental health? And, did you know it costs approximately $22,350 of your hard-earned tax dollars to incarcerate one person each year.   It just makes since to help them become “tax payers” as opposed to “tax users.”  And Employment Connection is just the place to help!

Since 1977, Employment Connection, a proud member of the United Way,  has been fighting crime and homelessness with employment and housing by developing relationships with training, educational and mental health programs; employers, landlords and funders advocating for ex-offenders, veterans, youth “at-risk” and others who need a second chance.  The goal is to not just help them find a job, but a job that leads to a career. 

We define success when a client is free of reliance on public or government support, living independently, has a stable family life and/or is connected to their children.  They are financially self-sufficient and capable of seeing a future with hope, dignity and success. 

Recently a former client said it best in a thank-you note to us:

“At the time I came for assistance I was a homeless veteran with four years of service. I received support through Employment Connection with my housing and secured employment with Managed Work Service as a floor tech. I am now an Environmental Services Specialist working full-time and receiving benefits. If it wasn’t for the outstanding assistance that the Employment Connection staff rendered to me, I would still be homeless, jobless and maybe incarcerated. Working together with Ms. Jackie and Mrs. Colquitt, we were able to make sure I met every qualification and had everything I need to meet eligibility. I was determined not to be in the same state that I was when I first came through the doors and they were very eager and willing to help me.  My sincerest thank you!”

If you or someone you know need a helping hand look no further than Employment Connection, a place for second chances!   Call 314-333-JOBS (5627) for a reservation for services. 

Volunteers are also needed and welcomed.  Call Stephanie at 314-333-5645 for more information or please visit our website for open volunteer positions.

From May through the end of June, Employment Connection will be collecting various household items and cleaning supplies to make each homeless family we place in new housing feel welcome in their new home.  Our goal this year is to assist 175 families with donated “Welcome Home” packs.  If you or your business is interested in holding a “Welcome Home” Drive or have a question about donations, please contact Stephanie Weinhaus at (314) 333-5645 or

Brenda Mahr, MWDP is Chief Executive Officer of Employment Connection, a proud member of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.  Member:  St. Louis Alliance for Reentry (STAR); Community Advisory Board-St. Louis Regional Health Commission; National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice; Vashon Alumni Hall of Fame; 2015 Archdiocese St. Charles Lwanga Torchbearer Awardee.