Atlanta nonprofit First Step Staffing putting hundreds of homeless people to work
For Greg Block, finding jobs for the homeless has become the fight of his life — literally.
Block, 50, started First Step Staffing, a nonprofit employment agency, in 2006. After a career running businesses and a four-year stint with the CIA, Block wanted to dedicate himself to making life better for the least among us.
“When I first started First Step, I wanted to figure out how can you connect homeless men and women with income and get them out of homelessness,” Block said in a recent interview. The question he sought to answer was how one could build a sustainable organization that could fund itself through business revenue.
After several years of operating First Step with only incremental growth providing about 150 jobs, Block and his board did something highly unusual. They decided to buy a much larger for-profit staffing agency and convert the operations to the nonprofit First Step.
The $7.5 million deal to buy the Georgia business of LGS Staffing closed exactly a year ago, on Dec. 17, 2015.
“Today we have 900 people out working and at least 500 have been recently homeless,” said Dave Shaffer, the nonprofit’s CEO who joined First Step at the time of the acquisition after working for a similar agency on the West Coast for nearly 10 years.
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