BLOC Screen Print aims to bring dignity, hope – and a new skillset – to people in need of a second chance.
By Anya Rao
The creation of one screen printing shop in Cincinnati didn’t happen with the typical money-making concept in mind. BLOC Screen Print, located in the city’s struggling Lower Price Hill neighborhood, was started with the goal of providing skills – and support – to people who have experienced addiction, incarceration, and other challenges.
The screen printing shop is one of many programs making up BLOC (Believing and Living One Christ) Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization which seeks to rebuild local Cincinnati neighborhoods by serving at-risk children and adults through job training, recovery homes, arts and athletics programming, a soup kitchen, food pantry, and more. Full-time employees must reside in the neighborhood in which they serve. BLOC Screen Print’s director, Jim Green, moved from the suburbs he has always known to the urban Price Hill area near the shop, along with his wife, Karen, who now runs BLOC’s Redeemed Home, a transitional refuge for female survivors of addiction, trafficking, and prostitution.
The group of men or women working in the shop changes as the staffers graduate from the program, which typically includes 8 to 16 weeks learning skills and developing their work ethics at the screen shop and other BLOC businesses. “We tell them from the beginning that this isn’t where you are going to make a living,” Green says of the training program. It’s a first stop on the way up the ladder toward self-sufficiency. BLOC works with local organizations to help their graduates find full-time employment after they successfully go through the program. When Screen Printing’s associate editors visited, four women living in Redeemed Home were on staff.
“I knew that the stuff on T-shirts came from somewhere, but I didn’t know the process,” says Chrystal Mara, who joined the program with the standard part-time hours, was hired on full-time to help teach the new workers, and has since landed a full-time job outside of BLOC. “I didn’t have an education or a trade before I came into this program, and now I do. I can take what I have learned and take it outside and do something with it – and for that I am grateful.”
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