Eulogy for a Man Who Gave the Gift that Matters Most: A Job

Posted on May 12, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Ode to Hank Jorgensen

By Peter Sullivan

I learned yesterday from a former unemployed client who I helped find a job that Hank Jorgensen passed away. Hank had just a regular job -  wood shop manager of Tahari Company – yet he did what he could to make a big difference in the lives of people without jobs, people most people ignore, people, that is, that we serve.

Peter Sullivan is a job developer for Catholic Charities.

Hank built platforms, runways, stages, and showrooms for the models that Tahari hired to promote their very successful clothing line.

Hank also hired many of our clients over the years. He averaged about one hire a year from us since I first met him in 2003. He hired from all our programs. People he hired included those thrown out of work after the World Trade Center disaster.  They included those who lost jobs as well as the long-term unemployed.  He hired those who recently arrived from other countries and never before held a job in the United States.  He even hired people  recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Hank always believed in what we do here at Catholic Charities.

Since his main need was carpenters, Hank used to say that if the person has the potential he could tell by the way the person looked at a job whether or not he could teach them carpentry.

There were issues over the years and even an occasional time when a hire did not work out. But instead of being upset Hank was sorry to let the fellow go.

Yet the positive stories far outweighed the negative ones. One in particular comes to mind. A client from Cuba, who could speak little English but had past experience in carpentry was hired by Hank. I called Hank two weeks after the hire to see how the client was doing. Hank replied he was doing well. Hank said he could point to a job and the client would understand and jump right in.

Two months go by and I called again. Hank said the fellow was now his right-hand man. Two years go by and Hank calls me up to say our former client – and now his right-hand man - was leaving. I said sorry to hear that and Hank replied he wasn’t sorry, for the man had learned all that Hank could teach him and he had become fluent in English. He was moving to Miami with his wife and son to start his own carpentry business.

Hank was always happy for our clients when they did well. And he always thanked us for the work we do here at Catholic Charities.

By the way, the client who let us know about Hank’s death had been promoted by Hank to take over the shop after he retired.

God rest Hank’s soul.

A decent job is the key to decent housing, financial stability and dignity. But finding a job can be tough, particularly for the most vulnerable. Young people entering the workforce, those aging out of foster care, immigrants, persons with disabilities and the long-term unemployed have a particularly hard time finding work. 

Catholic Charities helps job seekers develop concrete skills. We offer employment training and placement programs geared for specific needs. Our services also include classes to pass TASC (formerly GED) exams, master English and develop job skills.  And we help develop the experience and confidence needed to hold a job and maintain independence.

Contact a Catholic Charities agency if you need help with finding a job.

Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

For Help Call 888-744-7900