photo: Governor Patrick
Governor Deval Patrick hosted a "Back to Work" roundtable that highlighted exactly how the stimulus program is working in Massachusetts to help its people get jobs.

In a jam-packed room provided by the Community Action Agency of Somerville, people from the Greater Somerville area told the Governor just how their lives were impacted by getting jobs thanks to Recovery programs in the state.

Many of the stories were dramatic but the Governor was clearly compelled by Dana Jackson, 19, and Jonathan Rivera, 21, young men who could not get jobs because of their brushes with the law in their youth. Jonathan described how he was just about to get a job at CVS when a CORI check ruined all his chances.

Jonthan Rivera

"Because of my past, I couldn't get a job," he said. But thanks to the stimulus-funded Second Chance and Success program at Boston ABCD, Jonathan is now working for the city councilor office in Roxbury and Dana is working for the Boys and Girls Club in Roxbury. They are both also getting training in financial education. Jonathan told the Governor that his training is so good he feels like he'll be able to open his own business in a year.

"That's what I'm talking about," replied the Governor.

Green Beginnings
Marsha Morris, the owner of Green Beginnings, described how she built her business training workers in green jobs and providing weatherization services, through stimulus funding. "My entire business is built on the stimulus package," she said, pointing to the 6 people she brought with her who she hired thanks to these stimulus-funded programs.

The Governor was thrilled. "Inside the stimulus bill is the biggest energy bill in history to reach a part of the workforce that hasn't been reached," he told Marsha. "You used it that way."

Yesenia Perez told the Governor that she couldn't afford to continue her studies until she joined Boston ABCD's stimulus-funded Career Explorations program. Now she has a paid internship at Beth Israel Deconess Hospital in the Department of Nuclear Medicine and can afford to go back to school. She told the

Liz DeLeom
Governor, "I feel like I'm going to be somebody in life now."

The Governor turned to the room and, pointing to Yesenia, said, "Do you see how it works?"

Christopher Hosman, the enrollment specialist at CAAS Head Start noted to the Governor that it amazed him how many of the people he meets in his work want to work. Their biggest stumbling block, he emphasized, is childcare. The Governor was quick to acknowledge that quality childcare needs to be more available.

Claudia Arrecis, the Spanish speaking case manager at CAAS thanked the stimulus funds for creating her position. Marissa Underwood, a single mother of a two-year old boy described how she had to miss a few weeks of work to care for her son who was sick with H1N1 virus. It was the help she received through the

Kim Coffield
stimulus-funded Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing program at CAAS that allowed her to keep her job and her house.

The stories go on and on. Eventually the Governor had to leave. "I want to thank everyone out there at all these agencies who are helping others find a reason to hope," he told the crowded room. "Hope is a real thing. People build their lives on hope."