Career Gear provides professional clothing, mentoring and life-skills to help men in poverty become stronger contributors to their families and communities.

Spotlight on a Participant

KeonOut of 600 seniors at his High School in Brooklyn, Keon was one of just 280 to graduate. Looking to be the first in his family to earn a college degree, he enrolled at Borough of Manhattan Community College – and, unprepared for the academic rigor, flunked out within a year. He tried again, this time at Devry University. And once again, he flunked out within a year. At this point, Keon was referred to Career Gear through the SUNY Bridge Program as a 21 year old hoping to look professional for the workforce. Keon left Career Gear with a new suit “I will never forget, it was a brand new Brooks Brothers suit!” (Donated by our long time corporate partner Brooks Brothers.)

Keon also decided to take advantage of the free classes on workforce preparedness, financial literacy and life skills that Career Gear offered. It was at Career Gear’s Professional Development Series program that he found a source of mentorship and a community of support. “They helped me. They gave me advice and helped push me forward.”

Keon soon landed his first job working at JFK as an aircraft cleaner, which he enjoyed for its globalized nature “I cleaned the inside of 747s from places like London, Sao Paolo, and Abu Dhabi. It was fun.”

But Keon still dreamed of higher education. He showed that the third time really is the charm and earned his Liberal Arts Associate Degree from Borough of Manhattan Community College. And then, with a 3.7 GPA to boot, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural & Historical Studies from the City College of New York.

Despite being raised in a fatherless household and experiencing academic failure, Keon earned his degrees, now holds a steady job, and still has ambition for the future. “I want to grow. Expand my horizons, and experience some upwards mobility… and help others. I like to see other people happy. I love it. It’s not just about me.”

While he might credit Career Gear with motivation and preparation “the guys here at Career Gear were kind of like the father I never had,” the foundational resources were his mother, grandmother, and community in Brownsville, Brooklyn. “The whole neighborhood and my church, they raised me.” Having continuously overcome and surpassed adversity and obstacles to his personal and professional growth, there’s little as inspirational as Keon’s continued commitment to personal progress and selfless community enrichment.

 

 

2015 BBQ AT HILL COUNTRY

IMG_2652

April 1st marked the return of Career Gear’s Annual BBQ Soiree at Hill Country NY. A night looked forward to (with mouth-watering anticipation) by returnees, as well as by newcomers ready to party for a great cause. The event was a culinary, musical, social, and most importantly, charitable success!

The food ranged from classic Texan hors d’oeuvres such as brisket tacos and mini macaroni-and-cheese pies (an ingenious delight), to the centerpiece – the savory, tender brisket accompanied by cucumber, scrumptious cornbread, and the sauce du jour – BBQ. A special thank you to our liquor sponsors Bacardi and Peroni for the open bar! The music was fun Midwestern rocking provided by the talented all-girl band, Your Ex-Girlfriends.

The night may have been fun, but the focus on helping low-income men get back into the workforce was ever-present, and most poignantly represented with the speech of our client Dion. Raised in an addicted and fatherless household, Dion was introduced to Career Gear while finishing a substance abuse program. He recalled the sensation of being suited, noting, “after being fitted with a suit, I felt like a million bucks.” But, the suiting program isn’t the only way he was supported. “Not only did Career Gear offer a suit to get back into the workforce, and a positive force to get me going – but they also offered professional workshops and a remarkable atmosphere with a lot of help.”

As our ‘success story’ of the evening, Dion is a shining example of overcoming adversity. “Coming from a place where I was once begging for change, to a place where I currently represent change, is a blessing.”

The night was a huge success! And while we could spend forever thanking our attendees, donors, and volunteers – we think Dion did it best: “Nothing feels as good as making someone else feel good. So thank you all for making a difference.”

Spotlight on a Career Gear Participant

Legally blind since the age of seven, Marco taught himself to read and write. Nevertheless, he was mainstreamed into high school and graduated in the top 10% of his class. After high school, Marco was told that blind people were not supposed to pursue careers in the sciences or engineering. After many frustrating years, Marco received a scholarship from the government PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) Program, which permitted him to pursue his education at a SUNY college.

While in school, he received multiple grants and scholarships, which covered the full cost of tuition and also allowed him to build his own adapted electronics laboratory. Marco graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems and Engineering and quickly went on to obtain his PhD in Robotics. Soon after, he learned that he was not saving the required amount of money as prescribed by the PASS Program, and the government issued a full recoupment of all monies paid out. As a result, Marco lost everything and become homeless.

Marco first came to Career Gear to get a suit for an upcoming job interview, but after learning about our Professional Development Series workshops, he decided to enroll in the classes. Marco quickly became a role model to the other students, rarely missing a class and always engaged and interested. He took a particular interest in our workshops on “How To Market Yourself To Employers” and “How To Start Your Own Business.”

Since participating in the programs at Career Gear, Marco has been able to reconnect with his community and felt a renewed sense of confidence and motivation. Recently, Dr. Marco Bitetto had his nervotron research and hardware based architecture for artificial neurons acquired by IBM to develop a neural network based super-computer for the Department of Defense. Although, unfortunately Dr. Bitetto’s patent had already expired, as a result, Marco was hired as a scientific advisor to the Nervotronic Corporation. His is also starting his own company where he will develop new robotics technology.

We believe that Dr. Bitetto’s story shatters a lot of myths about what sort person ends up unemployed and struggling for self-sufficiency and we are pleased that Dr. Bitetto has shared his story and this quote “Thanks to the help of the staff at Career Gear, I have a new start in life. Career Gear has given me another chance to become successful.”

409446_316596138386159_704829752_n

 

NY Yankees Hope Week

Today Show Spotlights Career Gear