News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

Akron General

NOCHE


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


Building futures with bike racks
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry helps displaced residents get employment ready with a new program
by WKSU's AMY COOKNICK
and AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Reporter
Amy Cooknick
 
Bryan Mauk (L) and John Handyside (R) with a welding machine in the Metro Metal Works garage.
Download (WKSU Only)
Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry:

One downtown Cleveland men’s shelter is making the best of a poor economy by providing jobs to its homeless residents. Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry has been running over capacity since the start of the economic downturn, as increasing numbers of men face unemployment. Through a fledgling initiative called Metro Metal Works, homeless residents can work for minimum wage while at the shelter, build a resume, and make professional connections to give them that much-needed lift toward long-term employment.

Click to listen to audio story

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:35)


Meet John Handyside
It’s the start of another work day in the Metro Metal Works garage at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry on Cleveland’s west side. Dressed in pale, worn jeans, work shoes, and a powder-blue T-shirt beneath his dirty gray hoodie, John Handyside arrives ready to weld.

The walk to his job isn’t far for Handyside. He’s one of about 350 men who call this shelter home. In addition to housing homeless and out-of-work men in Cleveland, the ministry provides a steady job for eligible residents like Handyside.

Residents generally stay at the shelter for 36 days, down from an average of 40 days just last year, thanks to increased help from partner organizations. Although the men can stay as long as they need to, it helps everyone involved if residents can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

Handyside entered the shelter about four months ago following a dispute with relatives. He began making bike racks with the Metro Metal Works program soon after.

“They have a program – stipend program – which is sort of like an allowance for the people who live here so they can have some money in their pockets," Handyside says. "And the coordinator, he informed me about the bike program, asked me if I was interested and I turned in my resume and interviewed and got the position.”

Now Handyside spends his days bending metal into bike racks in the garage at the ministry.

Why bike racks?
Mike Sering, vice president of housing and shelter for the ministry, says the concept of making bike racks to place around the city came from an idea to create jobs for residents within the shelter.

“We were looking at opportunities for the guys and at the same time, we realized that the city was purchasing bike racks from out of state. And we figured that, hey, if we could purchase them locally, that’d be awesome," Sering says. "We could create job opportunities and then the money wouldn’t leave the state.”

Bryan Mauk has been involved with the shelter in various capacities since high school. When he was appointed director of social enterprise in May 2011, Mauk heard of a proposal within the ministry to employ residents to build bike racks. Mauk adopted the idea as his own project and began experimenting with building bike racks in his garage at home.

He says making the bike racks helps residents, not only by providing them with a steady job, but also by solving a transportation problem.

“Most of the people who are impoverished, bicycle is their primary means of transportation. You know, they don’t have a car," Mauk says. "A good bicycle getting stolen is just a huge thing, so if places that they bike to don’t have anywhere to securely store it, it’s a big issue in their lives. So it’s another way of helping. It’s another product that not only helps the people who are making them, but the people who are receiving them.”

Mauk says now is an especially crucial time to help the men at the shelter find employment.

“We’ve been running our overflow all through the summer, which is really unusual for us. I think it is partially because, as we see the tail of the foreclosure crisis and the economy coming through, we’re seeing a lot more people that are experiencing homelessness.”

The effects of a poor economy
The decrease in available jobs has had an especially powerful negative impact on men like those at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, many of whom lack the resources to seek jobs competitively. Sering says building the bike racks gives residents a shot at future employment by offering a stable work experience and the chance to prove themselves as employees.

“It serves as an awareness thing as well for people to see, ‘Oh wow, someone has a re-entry background, someone used to be homeless, and they’re smart, hardworking and dedicated,’ which is not normally what people think of when they think of homelessness,” Sering says. “We send people to job opportunities all the time and we can say, ‘Hey, this guy is a consistent worker doing a good job and could use a break.’”

Sering says Metro Metal Works employees built and installed 40 bike racks in 2011 and more than 200 in 2012.

Looking ahead 
With the success of the program, Mauk says plans are underway to create more businesses within the ministry. He’s working on a fresh-food distribution project called Central Kitchen and hopes to increase the number of entrepreneurial ventures from there, taking into consideration the talents already available at the shelter.

“Not everybody’s a cook, not everbody’s a welder, so the idea is to have both a portfolio of businesses that can have different markets to exploit, but also different trades and skills that people can learn," Mauk says.

As for Handyside, he doesn’t plan on being at the shelter long enough to see those new enterprises take shape. He says the resume he’s building with the bike- rack program will help him find a better job once he leaves the shelter.

“It shows that you’re willing to work to potential employers and it shows that you are working, which looks good on a resume. So it is a great help to both the worker and the program itself," Handyside says.

Mauk says the ministry is now building new administrative offices on Superior Avenue at East 45th Street. With the success of the bike rack program, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry recently bought an empty warehouse across the street from the new offices. Mauk says he plans to move the program into the warehouse, which is better equipped to handle welding machines without the risk of blowing fuses.


Related Links & Resources
Lutharn Metropolitan Ministry

Metro Metal Works website


Related WKSU Stories

Couch surfing and beyond: Young and homeless in Cleveland
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Helping the homeless through motivation
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cleveland's growing homeless population
Monday, November 21, 2011

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

ResponsibleOhio leader says the state is trying to set Issue 3 up for failure
Ohio suppose to believe that a group of investors were united under one cause to legalize marijuana.Once legal they all of sudden turn into 10 different compani...

Terry Pluto: U of A's new athletic director has the toughest job in town
It is a hard sell. The Students do not want to go to the football games and they do not want to pay for the program. They have a lot of student loan debt and t...

Akron considering the future of the B.F. Goodrich smokestacks
This BFGoodrich alumna says, "Thank you, Dave Lieberth!"

State creates panel to look at Ohio charter school sponsors
It is more than disturbing that charter schools, which seemed like a good idea years ago, have begun to cripple public school education.

DEVO mural in Akron is now on display downtown
The installation is not at the former site of Chili Dog Mac. CDM was one block north on the other side of Main St.

New report shows growth in white collar jobs for Northeast Ohio
Unfortunately, there are fewer jobs in comparison to the number of professionals applying for them. I have been had a full time job since June 2012. In order to...

Advocacy group: Ohio could lead in clean energy
Ohio Legislators, You are supposed to be our leaders but you're not taking us where we want to go - where we need to go!

Campaign for and against marijuana legalization begins
Cannabis legalization needs to happen as soon as possible! But not if it gives monopolies to a selected few to grow and sell the herb. Responsible Ohio's mono...

Heinen's in downtown Cleveland sponsors a contest for food entrepreneurs
Love that this took place right here! What a way to support local. Thank you Heinens! Love this quote, as a small local biz, I agree, it's big!! "To be a small...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University