By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – After a stumble in her quest for employment last month, Eunice Jasica has found a job with On Time Transportation, which shuttles Medicare and Medicaid recipients to and from doctor appointments.
This development comes after a miscommunication led her to believe she was hired by KFC, but upon reporting to retrieve her uniform, she was dismissed. The incident caused Jasica to suspect she was let go because she is a resident of Salvation Army’s homeless lodge.
Major Sue Dorman, senior officer for the Salvation Army in North Mississippi, said though a stigma toward the homeless community exists, Jasica’s experience with KFC was not a reliable indicator of the attitudes at large toward lodge residents.
“Almost all of our lodge residents are working and doing well,” she said. “What happened with KFC was definitely an isolated incident.”
Dorman attributes the success of lodge residents to better preparation. The Army seeks to serve as a “hand up, not a handout,” by helping job-seekers craft a resume, hone interview skills and dress professionally. In addition, the Army helps lodge residents earn their GEDs.
“A GED sends the message that the person does want to work toward something and make themselves better,” Dorman said.
As per lodge rules, Jasica applied for 10 jobs each day, five days each week since coming to the lodge in December.
“It’s been tough, because I’m from Chicago, and I don’t have the connections of someone who is from Mississippi,” she said. “But what can you do but try, try, and try again?”
Though Dorman reported the Army had received an outpouring of calls from locals asking what they could do for Jasica, her interview with On Time Transportation actually took place in February, before the KFC incident.
Moses James, operations manager for On Time Transportation, interviewed and hired Jasica. He said he had never encountered a homeless applicant before, but her situation was not a deterrent.
“We need someone who cares for our riders, and she seemed to have a good spirit that will show courtesy to them, and she has 27 years of experience driving a bus in Chicago,” he said. “We’re a small company trying to grow, and she came across as someone we want on our team.
“Sometimes people just need a break, an opportunity. She came by every time we called her.”
Gloster Street restaurant Bonanza has a history of offering employment to lodge residents, according to assistant manager Chasney Glass.
“We’ve hired at least four,” she said. “I know because I’ve taken them home at night. For the most part, they’ve been very dedicated workers.”
Glass said even in this economy when so many people are looking for jobs, good help is still hard to find.
“It’s rare to find someone who’s eager, motivated and willing to learn,” she said. “If a person has those qualities, not much else matters. We have all kinds of people who work here.”
Moses said currently they were waiting for Jasica’s paperwork to be processed, but that she would start when it was completed.
In the meantime, Jasica will continue attending classes at Itawamba Community College toward completing her degree in business.