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St. Joseph the Worker Transforms Lives through Employment

In our COVID-19-impacted world, Americans have both gained and lost. While our communities have gained a new sense of optimism, togetherness and hope during these trying times, an unprecedented number of people have lost their jobs and financial security. In Arizona, the Economic Policy Institute estimates that the unemployment rate will reach 15.7%, by July as tens of thousands of people in Arizona file for benefits.

There’s a large number of people who have joined the unemployed population, and that number is expected to increase substantially. People in our community are trying to make ends meet and many lack the basics to even start looking for employment.


Even during these tough and discouraging times, St. Joseph the Worker is still working to help give those who are struggling resources, faith and hope for a brighter tomorrow. SJW’s services have changed for now, but its purpose to help people acquire and maintain employment remains the same as part of #theSJWcommitment.

I don’t think my life would have gone in this positive direction without St. Joseph the Worker’s help! – Zack, SJW client hired as a CNC machinist for a government agency, March 2020

Keeping the Community Strong, Financially Sound and Firmly Employed

With its doors still open, St. Joseph the Worker (SJW) is a Phoenix organization serving individuals who are homeless, low-income, economically deprived or disadvantaged become self-sufficient through quality employment. It provides a safety net designed to catch those in need and help them rise up after falling.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a change in SJW’s services until further notice.Currently, job seekers can work with an employment specialist who helps create a customized job searching plan and connects them to essential hiring employers.

However, in traditional circumstances, anyone experiencing economic hardship and who is serious about finding a job can have access to a wide range of support available at SJW, including:

Job readiness workshops, job hunting advice, job search techniques, computer and Internet access, clothing that’s professional and tailored to the job, resume development, mock interviews, financial coaching, assistance for certification/licensure fees, transportation and other necessities to set an individual up for success.

SJW’s mission is to provide a hand up (not a hand out), while building on a person’s strengths and eliminating employment barriers. They guide their clients through the steps to enter or return to the workforce as they’re shaped into productive, self-reliant members of society. By working with SJW, clients learn how to not give up and become an inspiration to others when they get hired.

Offering Back-To-Work Services & Resources1

SJW’s typical services connect each client with a designated employment specialist who helps build a customized job searching plan, including job leads in the client’s desired employment industry. As a job-seeking hub, SJW offers robust services, one-on-one support, resources, tools and solutions that fall within three categories:

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  • Resume and job application support
  • Mock interviews
  • Personal presentation and communication tips
  • Confidence building
  • Guidance on how to explain a criminal history or large gap in employment
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  • Address and phone number
  • Internet access to job search and submit applications
  • Appropriate clothing
  • Basic hygiene items
  • Daily bus passes
  • Reduced monthly bus passes
  • Financial assistance for work uniforms or shoes
  • Help securing certification or license fees
  • Assistance for clients looking for a higher paying job
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  • Tailor Made for Success is a men’s boutique that outfits men for their job search and interview.
  • The Mobile Success Unit (MSU) is a mobile job development office/vehicle designed to deliver employment supplies and resources to job seekers throughout the Valley.
  • The Career Clothing Closet provides necessities to help men and women transition into employment.
  • SJW’s partners with the Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), so people who are in need and qualify can get referred to SJW.
  • Clients can potentially get a credit fee/fine reduction by a judge in a courtroom serving as a classroom.
  • SJW is a part of a collaborative network of social service and partner agencies.

1Please note that some services listed above have temporarily changed due to COVID-19. Visit sjwjobs.org, call (602) 584-5511 or email 5800sjw@sjwjobs.org to get the most up-to-date information.

2018-2019 Success & Outcomes

  • 3,861 dedicated SJW clients obtained employment
  • The average starting pay was $12.73 an hour
  • 70% of the jobs offered benefits

See the full picture.

Providing Financial Education

For over 10 years, Desert Financial has partnered with St. Joseph the Worker to provide financial education on budgeting and credit to help individuals make wise choices as they take steps to change their lives. Sulie Richardson, Community Education Program Manager at Desert Financial, leads these workshops to prepare people for what lies ahead of them. How can they get their own apartment? What happens if they’re let go or hours get cut? How can they repair credit? People are so excited when they get a job that often they don’t think things through. These classes help the newly employed be proactive in planning for their future and for the unexpected.

Sulie shares that people come to these classes as part of the job readiness program, but they don’t want to be there. They don’t see the value. They’re disconnected and in distress. However, as they move through the program, they learn about planning for the future, preparing to be successful and gaining financial independence. When they leave, they’re appreciative of the information and glad they were there. For Sulie, this is what makes the class rewarding. “I’m helping people,” Sulie says. “You let people know you’re here. There’s hope, no matter what the situation is. If you’re alive, you have hope. You’re here, and you’re doing the best you can. This is hard, but the information is impactful, and it’s going to help them.”

Challenging Personal Stereotypes

For Emma Garcia, Assistant Vice President of Community Relations, hearing the powerful story of a SJW client challenged her own stereotypes. This woman, a single mother and speaker for the organization, helped change the perception of what it means to be homeless. During her speeches, she would describe the obstacles that someone like her would face and give such a compelling case for the impact that SJW has on lives. It is heartfelt stories like this one that inspire others to treat people with compassion and dignity, care about making a difference and advocate for the organization.

Ways to Give & Get Involved

Due the novel coronavirus, we encourage you support SJW and its clients by donating an expense you may not use this month from the safety of your own home. Please note that the following list of ways to get involved includes options that are currently not recommended or canceled because of social distancing and health guidelines. To inquire about current and safe ways to give support, contact Katie Thorson at (602) 689-2110 or kthorson@sjwjobs.org.

  • Donate. SJW is 100% community funded. Now more than never, SJW needs financial support to help the community recover from COVID-19 and continue its mission.
  • Become a short-term or long-term volunteer. Volunteers are critical for various roles, such as instructing workshops, performing mock interviews, providing computer assistance and more.
  • Donate professional menswear to Tailor Made for Success.
  • Donate hygiene products, professional items, clothing, footwear and accessories to the Career Clothing Closet.
  • Purchase items on the SJW’s MyRegistry or host a donation drive.
  • Email job openings if you’re an employer that’s hiring.
  • Claim the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit for Donations made to Qualifying Charitable Organizations
  • Join the SJW’s Legacy Labor Force and make a planned gift of wills/trusts, stocks/bonds, real estate, retirement assets and/or insurance.
  • Become a back-to-work donor by setting up automatic recurring donations.
  • Register for the Fry’s Community Rewards Program.
  • Host a Fun Raiser where guests can support for your cause (e.g. cash donations, gift cards and donated items).
  • Take a SJW Work Tour on campus in downtown Phoenix.
  • Attend a special event!

Give the Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude is powerful. If you’re among those who are fortunately working, you’re probably extremely grateful for your own job, financial stability and basic needs fulfilled, especially during these challenging times. Now you can step up to make a difference and help others in their search for employment, so they can experience the same gratitude and sense of security.

Get in Touch

Visit sjwjobs.org if you would like to learn more about SJW and access COVID-19 resources. To see the latest and stay connected, follow St. Joseph the Worker on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you or someone you know is in need of employment services, please call (602) 584-5511 or email 5800sjw@sjwjobs.org. Include in the email your first and last name, phone number, reason for your call and your location in the Valley. Your patience and flexibility are appreciated as SJW fields all calls and emails. Please do not walk in if at all possible.

We’re here to support you!

Visit our Financial Support Center where you can find resources to help you manage and protect your finances in our changing economy.


The material presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.