By LeeAnna White, Advancement Intern
Larry Mitchell is truly a gentle soul and thoughtful man. He shares his experiences, not only to remind himself of his humble beginnings, but to help educate and be an advocate for others.
Larry, who is 59, has faced significant personal obstacles in life. Over the years, Larry has had a hard time maintaining a job due a previous criminal conviction, as well as some mental health and dental and medical issues, including seven surgeries. His lack of medical insurance also made tending to his health a huge challenge.
Larry first worked with Rise Program Manager Nancee Magistad (then an employment consultant) who helped him put together a resume of his 35-year work history. She recognized his strong work ethic and was confident he could do well in the right job.
Employment Consultant Hollie Petersen started meeting with Larry in August 2019, while he was working for the Salvation Army as a housekeeper at one of their downtown shelters. Larry enjoyed working around individuals who had similar experiences and backgrounds as he had.
A compassionate man, Larry became an advocate for some of the other men at the shelter and shared with them tips on finding health services. He explained to the men that there are organizations and services out there that can help them like Rise. But he found that becoming involved in other people’s challenges began to take an overwhelming toll on him.
Despite all the obstacles Larry has faced, however, he never gave up. In December 2019, he was offered a great job as a general utility worker with flexible hours working for Aramark, a food service caterer, at US Bank Stadium.
“My supervisor takes me as I am, even with my challenges –I am truly blessed,” Larry said. He added that his supervisor commends Larry for being a reliable and devoted employee.
Since his Aramark job is part-time and seasonal, Larry plans to apply for the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) as an ‘ambassador’ in March so that he can work more closely with people. He hopes to “bring more happiness to the streets of downtown Minneapolis.”
In this capacity, Larry would walk through the downtown streets offering people assistance by giving them directions, answering questions, and recommending dining and entertainment spots.It’s a position that certainly aligns with his spirit and personality!
Larry hopes that sharing his story will inspire others who may be facing a similar situation, encouraging others to conquer their hardships.
“Those of us who have survived need to recognize our blessings,” he said. “I’ve made some bad choices over the years which I regret and can’t erase. I can only move forward now.”
Larry added that he wants to help spread information relating to mental health and mental health services as well as employment services like Rise which assist people who have disabilities live productive, happy lives.
“I have had some great people like Hollie and Nancee at Rise who have really understood my pain and frustration and have been there for me. It’s so nice to have them as a safety net should I need help. I am so grateful to them.
“For those of us who come from the streets and have our ups and downs in life,” he added, “it is important not to let our past hinder our future. Don’t let failure get in your way — never stop trying.”
In his free time, Larry enjoys fishing Minnesota lakes, bowling, and staying healthy!
Thisarticle appears in the March 2020 issue of the Rise Reporter.