Fresco Markets – Ending Homelessness with Jobs and Support


Tuesday evening November 28, 2012 NBC Nightly News ran Market Offers Jobs and Second Chances” focused on the creative business model of Fresco Markets.  The grocery store employs graduates of the Los Angeles Mission’s FreshStart program helping to end homelessness and addiction through employment and a nurturing environment.

Kobe Bryant in his YouTube series “Mission” also interviewed Anthony, a Fresco employee/graduate of the Los Angeles Mission.  I encourage you to listen to this very up front and personal encounter between Kobe and Anthony.

With Homelessness Month drawing to a close I would love to report so too ends this epidemic in LA and across the USA; but, sadly not this year.  But there is hope.

One of the critical components to ending homelessness is employment.  The Mission’s Salvatore Learning Center first focuses on a person’s ability to read.  But the overarching goal is really a GED and stable employment.  Our programs are built on the premise that you help yourself first and then call upon the help of others when you cannot do life alone.  Government entitlement benefits are not a given but are a temporary step to independence.

We value work in our programs and require all participants to be involved in a work therapy program.  This offsets the costs of our programs while teaching new skills and disciplines of work.  The Los Angeles Mission students are provided career guidance focused on aptitudes, interests and abilities subject to any legal limitations.  All of this is for the stated purpose of helping them obtain and keep quality employment – which is necessary to sustain housing.

Paramount beyond employment is the need for a safe and supportive community.  This is the uniqueness of Fresco Markets.  This employer values people!  Thus, it becomes a place of refuge at the same time it pays a living wage.

The Los Angeles Mission has as an outcome measure along with employment, spiritual, physical and addiction behaviors.  It is reaching the goal of creating “safe community.”  Safe community might normally be a secure living unit, a church or an association like Alcoholics Anonymous.  In the case of Fresco that need is met by the employer’s direct involvement in the quality of life issues of each employee.  This is not a make-work job or a lowering of performance expectations.  It is the recognition by a very enlightened couple of the value of each human being.

The Los Angeles Mission applauds the work of Fresco Markets, its owners, employees and customers who model the best qualities of customer service, financial profitability and human values.

My Homelessness Challenge for today – Can you do likewise in your business as your part to ending homelessness?

-Herb Smith, President

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