Dustan and Nicole in front of their new apartment! DAILY WORK

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Our mission is to guide and to mentor job seekers who desire to be self-supporting by helping them prepare for, find and maintain work.

Dustan and Nicole's Story

Just weeks ago, Dustan wondered every day whether he would arrive at work to learn that he had been fired for being late. Without a car, he struggled to find transportation that could get him from the northern suburbs to his production job 20 miles away to arrive by 6:00 a.m. every day. Some days he spent more money than his wages to pay for round-trip cab fare.

Complicating his transportation challenges was that Dustan was homeless. He and his girlfriend Nicole were staying with friends or in hotels, moving from one place to another, towing all of their belongings in a few big black garbage bags. Dustan had been living with relatives, but after he found employment, he needed to live on his own.

“I’m a grown man and I have a job, responsibilities. My idea of life is that I can make it on my own,” he said.

Even homeless shelters were not an option for the couple on most nights, due to extremely limited availability, complicated, unpredictable rules, and no assurance that a bed would be available for more than one night. Of the little money Dustan earned, what was leftover after cab fare was used to pay for hotel bills, and sometimes food. Once, Nicole even resorted to selling food stamps to pay for housing so that she would not be stranded in the hotel parking lot after the noon checkout deadline, waiting hours for Dustan to return and find themselves shelterless for the night again. And Nicole had discovered she was pregnant.

“We were so stressed out, constantly worried and hungry,” Nicole said.

They knew that finding an apartment close to Dustan’s work would secure his employment and improve their situation, but they weren’t familiar with housing in the area. Producing a notebook filled with contact numbers and notes about social service agencies, she recalled the frustration of trying to find real help.

“I’d call one number, then they would tell me to call another number, and then another, until I would get a disconnected number, or no one would call me back, or the services had changed,” she said. “We weren’t looking for anything specific, just somewhere to sleep, where our belongings would be safe and we wouldn’t have to wonder where we would be the next night.”

By chance, they learned about Daily Work through a family member. In one marathon Saturday afternoon, Daily Work was able to help Dustan and Nicole secure an apartment located one mile from Dustan’s workplace. Small, quick-turnaround grants provided by Daily Work social service partners helped the couple survive until the apartment was available, paid for the apartment’s security deposit, and also afforded them a few necessities to set up house.

“Things take time and patience and everything would have worked out eventually,” Nicole said. “But without the personalized help we got from Daily Work, all I could find on my own was too expensive, too far away or not available.”

Today, Dustan and Nicole are cozy and relaxed as they share their story from their living room, which contains one loveseat, a few end tables and a desk, all donated to them by friends of Daily Work. Now Dustan arrives at work rested and on time every day. Nicole is carefully planning for the baby. They acknowledge that there is more work to come, both to save money and to gain the skills they need to secure better work, but now instead of worried and hungry, “We are awesome and wonderful now. Thanks to Daily Work we are comfortable, safe, happy and employed,” Nicole said.

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    ST PAUL, MN 55103-2028
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