THRIVE program helps the homeless find jobs

Three years ago, Misty Bjorland, 25, was homeless, unemployed and trying to survive another day on the streets. - Courtesy image
Three years ago, Misty Bjorland, 25, was homeless, unemployed and trying to survive another day on the streets.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Three years ago, Misty Bjorland, 25, was homeless, unemployed and trying to survive another day on the streets. She had dropped out of school at age 16, was in and out of abusive relationships, and turned to drugs and alcohol to cope.

“I had a rough life,” she says.

Back then, she thought she deserved a certain kind of life, and could not imagine other possibilities. Her job options, in particular, seemed limited. “I was familiar with working at fast food restaurants. I didn’t think I could do anything else,” she says.

In 2009, Misty enrolled in Multi-Service Center’s THRIVE program, which prepares homeless individuals for re-entry into the workforce through job skills training, job search skills, and paid internships. In THRIVE — which stands for Transforming Homelessness and Re-establishing Independence Via Employment – participants also have access to MSC’s other programs and resources including educational assistance, food, clothing, housing, and more.

Thanks to generous grant funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and United Way of King County, more people will now have access to employment assistance. After a year’s hiatus, Multi-Service Center has revived the THRIVE program, and can help up to 45 people move toward stability.

“We’re proud to offer this program again for homeless people, and are grateful for the funding to do so,” said Robin Corak, chief operations officer, Multi-Service Center. “In the past we had a strong rate of success in connecting people with family-wage jobs, and we’re glad to be able to help more people create stability through employment.”

For Misty, the program helped her get on her feet and gain confidence.

“THRIVE made a big difference in my life. Without Multi-Service Center, I’d probably still be living in a halfway house trying to figure out what to do with my life,” Misty says. “Because of the THRIVE program, I also was able to qualify for rent assistance which helped me get into my own apartment. With all that, I gained the self-confidence I needed to achieve my goals.”

One of those goals was to complete her GED, which she did. The program then helped her focus on getting a steady job.

“Because I hadn’t worked in a long time, I needed to learn job skills and how to write a resume,” she said. Misty did her internship with Multi-Service Center, which hired her after the internship ended.

Today, Misty works as a case manager with Multi-Service Center, helping people who come from backgrounds similar to hers get the resources they need to begin building more promising futures.

“I love the work I’m doing now,” she says. “I’ve really come a long way. I feel I can do almost anything now.”

THRIVE is geared for homeless individuals, ages 18 and older, who have worked sporadically or not at all for a prolonged period of time. Participants learn job skills such as conflict resolution, customer service, financial management, as well as job search skills like how to write a cover letter and resume and how to master interview techniques. A few paid internships of up to four months are available at area businesses and organizations. THRIVE is free for participants.

To learn more about the THRIVE program, contact Jim Boland, case manager for THRIVE, at (253) 838-6810, ext. 115., or log onto

(Article courtesy of Tricia Schug, Multi-Service Center)

Internship sites

Multi-Service Center is seeking internship sites in area businesses and organizations for adults needing current on-the-job experience to prepare them for re-entry into the workforce. Interns work 20 hours per week and are paid through grant funding. There are no costs to the employer.

Employers would need to provide interns a safe working environment, duties that would prepare them for a job in their chosen field, and monthly progress reports to the intern’s case manager.

If you have a business or organization that could benefit from having an intern for up to four months, contact Jim Boland at Multi-Service Center: (253) 838-6810, ext. 115; or


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