SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As an Ambassador, Keith Chandler makes his rounds in and out of Salt City Market.
“I’ll greet the people as they come in,” Chandler explains, “I’ll give them directions, if they should need, show them where the bathroom is, certain vendors are. And I try to keep trouble down. I make security aware of any trouble I see.”
Ambassadors, wearing gold t-shirts, are meant to stand out. The Rescue Mission and Salt City Market teamed up to provide employment opportunities to clients with their new Ambassador Program.
“A lot of times, individuals that have experienced homelessness, there are stigmas around their ability to work,” said Rescue Mission Chief Program Officer Amber Vander Ploeg, “This is us really trying to create some job skills for them that are transferrable to the rest of this community.”
Like many others, Chandler fell on hard times during the pandemic. “I got laid off from my job like last year, March 16 because of COVID. I haven’t been able to find any work for quite awhile,” Chandler said.
That all changed with this program, which has given him “independence and self-sufficiency,” Chandler explained.
The Ambassador Program was created to have an impact.
“It is about lowering the threshold to entry, maybe into the workforce,” said Salt City Market Manager Adam Sudmann, “So it is about opportunity.”
If you’re at the market and have a question, ambassadors are here for you.
There are 12 Ambassadors in the program which launched in May. The Rescue Mission hopes to recruit more people and expand the program to other organizations.