ormer U employee finds second chance for many

Fabiana Torreao

After 24 years filling vending machines on campus, George Brady is now filling job openings.
Brady, a former University vending employee and University graduate, single-handedly started an employment agency at the Epworth Methodist Church in Minneapolis. Since its opening, the agency has placed more than 1,000 people, most with no work history, in steady, full-time jobs.
“I never knew that I could run an agency that could do something like that,” Brady said. “I’m enjoying giving (these people) a second chance in their lives.”
Working mainly with homeless people, ex-convicts and recovering drug and alcohol addicts, Brady finds fulfillment in seeing his clients succeed.
He remembers crying with a homeless 17-year-old who was living in his car. Brady found him a job and a temporary home.
“I’ve got so many stories that I wish I had a diary,” he said.
Working with people is second nature to the 65-year-old. While at the University, Brady said, he enjoyed meeting students at the residence halls on his candy or pop machine routes.
Following a series of strokes that left him paralyzed for nearly six months, Brady retired from the University vending services about five years ago.
Despite his health problems, Brady wanted to stay active. He started volunteering at the Epworth Methodist Church, across the street from his house. After a couple of years, Brady launched Work With Dignity, an employment agency based at the church.
“If you were to tell me when I left the University, that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I’d have laughed at you,” Brady said.
Brady’s agency also works with Minnesota Transitions Charter School to help students start their work lives. His “job readiness” class, designed by Brady himself and adopted as part of the school’s curriculum, prepares and places students in steady jobs.
“I’ll get a student from a high school who is practically on his own at 16, almost homeless himself,” Brady said. “Then he’s got a job and comes to me and shows a new pair of jeans or a new jacket. I get clients who call me and tell me that they got an apartment, that they’ve been on a job for 90 days. It’s all worth it.”
The students aren’t the only ones at the school that Brady has helped.
Cheryl Smith, a Minnesota Transitions teacher, found her current job through Work With Dignity. Nearly three years ago, she picked up a flier lying on her apartment’s entrance.
After reading the Work With Dignity flier, Smith, a high school teacher who had just moved to the Twin Cities from Kansas and was looking for a job, called Brady.
Brady knew Minnesota Transitions was looking for teachers and promptly referred her. Since then, Smith has worked at the Minneapolis school.
“(Brady) has been tremendously helpful to me and my students at Minnesota Transitions,” said Cheryl Smith, the school’s social studies, health, and career teacher.
Brady is proud of having never placed anyone in a job at a fast-food restaurant. Rather, he said, a nursing home job or working with physically challenged passengers at the airport teaches one compassion.

Fabiana Torreao welcomes comments at [email protected]