More Than Work: Step Up Director Mike Mason

Mike talks about what really makes work important and how to help each person cross over their own unique barriers.

“I love…work.” Mike Mason Step Up Director here at Water Street Mission sees something in work maybe most of us miss.

Done well—work can be the glue to your life. It can be a center for building healthy community, a second family, a chance to grow your career and of course…build your finances. And people who haven’t experienced a positive work space will know…somethings off.

That’s why Mike loves work. “Work can be a place where people can serve other people the way God has gifted and wired them.”

As Step Up Director, Mike is motivated each day to help the men and women who come to Water Street not only see his vision of work, but obtain it for themselves. He and his team provide career and vocational coaching—but they don’t leave it at that.

Many guests here at Water Street have known trauma in their lives — which can often present challenges when it comes to re-entering the workforce. Understanding that each person experiencing homelessness has also experienced deep pain and spiritual brokenness has led Mike to build a trauma-informed approach to career management.

“Work can be a place where people can serve other people the way God has gifted and wired them.” Mike Mason

Water Street’s Enrichment Center

Recently, Mike brought a young man named Trevor* to an open house at Thaddeus Stevens. The gymnasium was packed with people. Different stations and speakers filled the room, leaving Trevor overwhelmed and sticking to the wall. Just then, a lady approached. She asked if Trevor and Mike would move through the bustling crowd and into the bleachers.

Waiting for Trevor to respond…Mike held his breath for what felt like minutes.

“Alright,” Trevor suddenly agreed.

As they made their way up to the top of the bleachers, Mike realized that what might have seemed like an easy solution to you or I—was really a massive step to this young man. Feeling out of place…like he looked different…didn’t have the right clothes…the right past…he made the decision to push through his discomfort. After they sat down, Mike and Trevor were able to relax, talk, laugh and of course, learn more about vocational training.

This is what Mike does each day. He comes alongside men and women struggling to know what their next step will be…how they will find long-term solutions to provide for themselves and their families…and he helps them overcome each barrier they face.

No matter how big or small it may seem to us—Mike wants to build the stairs to allow each person to take that “step up” for themselves.

*Name has been changed for anonymity