Chrysalis: Partnering to End Hunger Through Dignifying Jobs

Chrysalis: Partnering to End Hunger Through Dignifying Jobs

For decades, the number of hungry people worldwide had been declining. However, this isn’t true anymore. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), current estimates are that nearly 690 million people are hungry – up by 10 million people in one year. The number of people affected by severe food insecurity shows a similar upward trend: close to 750 million were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity in 2019.

As pressing global matters, hunger and food insecurity are issues that must be addressed through multiple efforts: from NGOs to governments, from socially responsible companies to informed citizens. Through our Nutrition for Zero Hunger initiative, we provide critical resources and expertise to communities around the world by collaborating with leading nonprofit partners.

Hunger is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition are driven by complex factors and needs vary from community to community. In Los Angeles, those experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity, even more so due to the effects of the pandemic.

To help address the needs of communities, we’re proud to partner with Chrysalis, a Southern California-based organization dedicated to helping individuals out of poverty by providing support ongoing programs for job placement and career development. Through our partnership, the organization is also able to provide nutrition and hydration products to program recipients.

I had a conversation with Mark Loranger, Chrysalis President and CEO, where he shared more about their mission and the significant impact of their ongoing work and programs.

Changing Lives Through Coaching People for Job Opportunities

Erin Richards-Kunkel (ERK): What is Chrysalis’ primary mission?

Mark Loranger (ML): We strive to assist individuals experiencing homelessness and economic barriers to prepare for, obtain, and retain a job. Last year, we provided services to more than 4,800 new clients. And 2,552 Chrysalis clients obtained outside employment demonstrating a 20% increase over 2018. Amongst these, 460 people were assisted through our Direct Hire Program, and 71% of working clients reached retained employment for six months or longer. We are grateful to be a part of the journey of those we serve, who are the real stories behind our stats and data.

ERK: How do you help people find and retain jobs?

ML: Each individual who comes through the doors of a Chrysalis center is assigned a personal advocate – an Employment Specialist who uses a personalized approach to guide them. We offer clients employment services and an array of supplemental supports such as interview clothing, transportation assistance, food, computers, phones and voicemail, and a mailing address. In addition, we provide scholarships to help clients access external trainings, certifications, and tools that will help them in their job search. After a client has found a job, our Client Services team continues to connect with the individual as a support system focused on employment retention.

ERK: What are some of the ways that Chrysalis is unique in supporting their clients?

ML: One of the things that makes Chrysalis unique is our Transitional Jobs Program. If a client comes to Chrysalis with extreme barriers to employment, such as lack of job history, perhaps because of past long-term incarceration or homelessness, securing employment is likely to be tough. Chrysalis’ employment social enterprise creates transitional jobs that provide wages and prepare for long-term employment through its three divisions: Chrysalis Works, Chrysalis Roads, and Chrysalis Staffing. In 2019, 1,570 Chrysalis clients worked a transitional job with Chrysalis.

Having a Positive Impact, Even During Tough Times

ERK: What are some of the main challenges that have arisen or grown during COVID-19 for the communities you serve and how are you responding to them?

ML: As we all navigate this new reality, ensuring the safety of staff and clients is paramount. When safer-at-home orders were announced in March 2020, Chrysalis decreased in-person services and most staff began working remotely. Within two weeks, the Client Services team was able to innovate and activate a virtual service model that has kept us in touch with thousands of individuals. Employment Specialists are providing case management by phone, text, email, and video. Our case managers are often one of the few constants in our clients’ lives, and their relationship is tremendously important. We are determined to continue to be available to our community and, over the past five-month period, more than 3,700 clients have had meaningful two-way conversations with staff members and connections with services. During this same time, nearly 550 clients have reported securing employment and each week, roughly 450 clients are working transitional jobs with our social enterprise.

We have been fortunate to have raised significant funding to provide direct supports for clients and are currently in the process of purchasing Chromebooks and tablets to give to our clients, so that they can begin accessing our services again. Additionally, through our COVID-19 Relief Fund and donations from supporters, we have distributed nearly $300,000 for direct client aid in the form of gift cards for gas and groceries, assistance with transportation and home utilities, and more.

ERK: Food and good nutrition are essential not only for daily living and wellbeing but also for job performance. How does food play a role in your work? How has this changed during the pandemic?

ML: Food assistance has always been part of Chrysalis’ support for clients. We need to ensure that our clients have access to the basic necessities of life, including proper nutrition, in order to find jobs and become self-sufficient. We offer sack lunches for clients whenever they need something to eat, and especially when they are actively pounding the pavement delivering resumes to prospective employers or working a transitional job.

Since the start of the crisis, food has become an even bigger barrier to our clients’ wellbeing. LA now has nearly a 19% unemployment rate, and many of our clients have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. While we are still primarily a workforce development organization, our clients are coming to us more often with needs for access to necessities such as rental assistance, transportation assistance, and food. We have spent nearly $40,000 in the past few months providing clients with food assistance. Our hope is to help our clients sustain themselves and their families through this crisis, so that when the economy opens up and there are more jobs available for them to apply for, they will be healthy and ready to go.

ERK: How does the support of corporate partners like Herbalife Nutrition help support your work?

ML: Corporate support from partners like Herbalife Nutrition helps Chrysalis’ clients in multiple ways.

First, through in-kind support, which allows us to distribute healthy food for clients without having to spend our own dollars. Herbalife Nutrition provides 1,400 nutrient-dense protein bars and hydration products monthly, helping our organization to provide healthy nutrition in snacks and lunches distributed to program members.

Second, the financial funding we receive from corporations allows us to spend the money where we need it the most, whether that’s food for clients, staff salaries, and overhead costs. In addition, an endorsement from a corporation like Herbalife Nutrition can lead to more support from the community.

Finally, corporate volunteers participate in impactful activities, such as clothing donation sorting, sack lunch assembly, etc. While the current pandemic has made such group activities impossible, we are finding new ways to continue our engagement with our corporate partners.

How We Can All Help Make a Difference

ERK: What are some ways that people can help support your mission?

ML: As a nonprofit, we rely on the generosity of the community to fund our work. We always welcome and appreciate donations, which can be easily made at http://www.changelives.org/donate/

Additionally, we are holding monthly live Community Broadcasts via Zoom where you can hear updates directly from our staff and clients. To register, visit www.changelives.org/attend-an-event/  and learn more about the tremendous impact we are still having in our clients’ lives, despite being faced with many new challenges.

Erin Richards-Kunkel

Erin Richards-KunkelDirector, Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Social Responsibility

Erin leads the development and execution of global partnerships and corporate social responsibility initiatives for Herbalife Nutrition. Her background combines analytical and creative expertise with degrees in both biological sciences and journalism from the University of California, Davis and the University of Southern California respectively. Her love of storytelling, science, and social good comes together in her approach for engagement and holistic campaign strategy and development.