LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Four years ago, Betty King was homeless. She had served 10 prison sentences and was a drug addict.
“And I did that for 25 years,” she said. “And I’m not proud of it.”READ MORE: Report: LA Sheriff Halting Use Of COVID Testing Provider Fulgent Over Alleged Ties To China
When King decided it was time for her to get sober, she entered a sober living program and was able to find a job making jewelry.
In this installment of “People Making A Difference,” CBS2 anchor Pat Harvey introduces us to a company that pays it forward by hiring people transitioning out of homelessness.
“We have nine core words.” King said of her employer The Giving Keys. “And all of them mean something to me.”
Those nine words that can be found stamped into jewelry sold by The Giving Keys are believe, create, dream, faith, fearless, hope, inspire, strength and love.
For Brit Gilmore, president of The Giving Keys, hiring people transitioning out of homelessness just makes sense.
“Employing folks that are experiencing homelessness, you experience more loyalty,” she said. “Your attention goes up because the opportunities are so limited.”READ MORE: Edward Badalian, Daniel Rodriguez Charged With Conspiracy, Assault In Connection With Jan. 6 Capitol Breach
The Giving Keys currently has 40 employees. And of those on the production floor, 60% were formerly homeless. They now earn a living wage with benefits.
The United Way of Greater Los Angeles has developed a program through Measure H funds to help companies follow the model developed by The Giving Keys.
“What that means is that we have an opportunity to take what we know works here at The Giving Keys and scale that up and make that available to many more employers,” Evelyn Garcia, of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, said.
And King is proof that this program works. She started at The Giving Keys as a production associate. Now she’s the floor supervisor overseeing the entire production team.
“We call her the mayor,” Gilmore said with a smile.
But King is grateful she was given an opportunity to live a better life.
“I became a better mom,” she said. “And I’ve got three grandkids, and I just try to be the best person I can be.”MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Should You Expect Another Relief Payment?
For more information about the United Way’s program can be found on the organization’s website.