In all his born days, Ricardo never imagined he’d be homeless.
However, his move to Houston in search of better opportunities didn’t turn out the way he’d planned. After some temporary jobs, suddenly he couldn’t find anything. All too soon, he couldn’t pay his rent.
“It made me look at another side of life,” Ricardo says. “I just didn’t picture myself there; that wasn’t going to happen to me. But it did. There were some times I didn’t eat. I never panhandled. I went looking for odd jobs, washing cars, anything. I was living behind a store, sleeping in a secluded corner. I didn’t want my family back home to know. I felt really ashamed of myself.”
One night, looking up at the stars, Ricardo finally asked the right Person for help. “ Just help me and use me any way You can,” he prayed. God answered him the very next week with the chance to come to Open Door Mission.
Through the Mission, he was able to attend the month-long Diageo Learning Skills for Life program at the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Fred Smith, Program Director, regularly recruits men from the Mission for this special job skills program. He explains:
“In 2015 I spent half a day at the Mission and was thoroughly impressed with the men I met and what the Mission is trying to accomplish, so I started recruiting. We tell the men that this is a chance to reboot their career and there are people who will give them a chance if they put the time, energy, and effort into it.
“We have lectures from faculty and hotel and restaurant staff on everything from how a hotel is operated, including housekeeping, maintenance, banquet service, etc. Then they physically spend time with hotel staff. We help with their personal presentation, their résumés, and how to answer when asked about the gap in their work records.
“The men from Open Door Mission are very engaged. Because the Mission provides transportation, meals, and beds, our program doesn’t have to help their students with that—and the men don’t have to worry about it. The Mission’s discipline makes it easier for them to succeed, and the computer skills they teach are absolutely essential. If you can’t use a computer, you really can’t even apply for a job now, or do many of today’s jobs.”
He has impressed all of us with his hard work and positive attitude. He has also helped five other men find jobs in the hotel. “ It’s not about me,” he says. “I remember when I asked God to use me. I just want my life to shine because God’s light is shining on me.”