AURORA, Colo. — A Colorado organization is on a mission to remove barriers to unemployment.
CommunityWorks began in 1995. More than two decades later, it has spread to five locations and has helped more than 35,000 people.
"Within four to five days, we have folks come in and go through our programs. Then we get them a job, and then we follow them for a year after that to make sure we can remove any barriers that they have to employment," said Rob Lee Andrews, president of CommunityWorks.
Through apprenticeship programs, job prep and support services — including a barbershop, career closet and recording studio — coaches can show people what they can become despite where they have been.
"Being able to show people you could come back from two DUIs, you can work on getting your family back," said Casper Richard, a peer recovery specialist who participated in the program.
CommunityWorks found Richard in sober living after he struggled with alcoholism for years.
"My family was done with me and the way I was living. They gave me the phone number to the sober living and was like, 'Here you go. Figure it out'" Richard said. "Within the first week, I was blessed enough to have a representative from Community Works come by the house I was living in and offer that lawn care position."
Richard grew from cutting lawns to becoming a career empowerment coach for CommunityWorks in Aurora. The program helped him pay for classes to meet his goals.
"I wouldn't be here. I would definitely, you know, for the lack of better words, be dead or in jail, honestly," Richard said.
Richard is now a peer recovery specialist for his own company, Living Ready and Willing.
"I think he's the example of success. In 2022, he was the participant of the year and employee of the year for the organization," Andrews said of Richard.
According to CommunityWorks, 70 percent of people in its program were successfully placed in jobs. The organization serves everyone but focuses on those receiving food assistance, the formerly incarcerated, people over 50 and veterans.
"Our vision is to make sure that everyone in our community is able to live up there God-given design," Andrews said.
To learn more about CommunityWorks, click here.