Franciscan Center getting men back to work


BALTIMORE - It's a look Ronald Brown hasn't seen in more than a dozen years. "The last time I wore a suit was my grandmother's funeral back it 1998," he said.

But today,  Brown is suiting up to change his life after years of nowhere and nothing to call his own.

"(I was) out on the street and homeless, chasing drugs," he said. "It's something I'm not excited about."

Brown is getting another chance through the help of The Franciscan Center and Attire-4-Hire , a two-year-old program focusing on men trying to get their lives back in order.

"We saw this as an opportunity to fill a void not offered in the city," said Christian Metzger, Director of Development and Marketing.

Additionally, Metzger and the volunteers at The Center help men like Brown develop marketable skills, build resumes and clean up their appearance to be interview ready.

"They need help with ID and birth certificates. Those are required just to get a job," Metzger said.

The program has helped men ranging from former contract workers to executives who lost everything in the economic downturn three years ago. To get the suits, ties and shoes, Attire-4-Hire and The Franciscan Center relies on donations from professional men and businesses.

And fashion expert Christopher Schafer gives both clothing and his time helping men like Brown try to get their new start off on the right foot and with the right look.

"You see that things are happening and there's a possibility that someone's life can change," he said.  "Hopefully, Ronald takes the bait and goes make some changes that need to be done."

And Brown is now looking to the future with hopes of things to come.

"One day, I want to be chef," he said. "I love cooking. I love to put a smile on someone's face when they eat my food."

And with a hand up, a new look and maybe a little luck, one day Brown will do just that.

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