For the better part of the past five years, Derrick Thornton called his workplace home.
"I lived in a warehouse," he explained. "I lived where I worked... I was a detailer."
But within the last two weeks, he's managed to move out of the converted storage unit, rent a place of his own, establish accounts with banks and utilities, and make that all-important move toward self-suffiency.
"I'm in (the new place) but now I want to stay there," he said. "Therefore I need my bread and butter work...what we would call a job."
Which is why he headed to a Job Fair sponsored by ECHO of Brandon on Thursday. One set up by his case-worker Sharmaine Burr.
"And that's a team of people -- that's just not me," Burr said -- making sure to highlight ECHO's commitment to help those in need move from crisis-mode to become contributing members of the community. "It was a team that we have that worked hand in hand with Derrick."
With resumes in his hand, and a pen ready to fill out any and all applications, Derrick -- who'd never been to a job fair before -- networked like a pro. And managed to make a positive impression on dozens of prospective employers.
"You get somebody in a job that they're just so happy -- and your client is happy as well," said recruiter Jeanette Bzdon. "That's more than anything."
We asked if she thought she'd be able to do that here.
So was Sharmaine...who was a bit more confident.
"He got himself a job. Because I made relationships with the community. They trust -- that if anyone I send to them -- they trust that they're going to be ready and prepared. And Derrick is prepared. And he's ready!"
And now Derrick is ready to not only collect a paycheck -- but also do his part to pay it forward.
"People want to help you," he said."Because they've received help along the way. And once I receive my help, then I'm able to help and give back."