Jonathan Clark- Out of School Youth

The old adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes carries more weight when talking about Knox Countian Jonathan Clark, whose mile is closer to five and whose shoes are the same leather dress shoes he has worn nearly every morning on his walk to work since the New Year.

“I walked every morning. It took me an hour to walk back and forth to work,” Clark remembers as he sits in the conference room at the KCEOC Community Action office in Barbourville.

Clark works at the Barbourville ARH hospital in medical records and scanning, a job he was recently promoted to after fulfilling a work-experience position in the hospital’s housekeeping department through KCEOC’s Out-of-School Youth Program.

Unfortunately, not every transition in his life has gone as smoothly.

Sitting behind a conference table, Clark appears to be a normal 19-year-old, working toward advancement in his field. He’s dressed in a tucked-in, button-down shirt and khakis and a charismatic grin sweeps across his face. No one might guess that just a few weeks ago during the dead of winter he was homeless and sleeping in his car.

After graduating from high school in June 2015, Clark knew one thing for certain—he wanted to get out into the local workforce. But with no means of transportation besides his own two feet and a lack of job prospects for someone fresh out of high school, he realized he might be in trouble.

“I’d looked all over Barbourville, and I did not have a car so I couldn’t go anywhere else but Barbourville,” he says. “Most jobs require experience, or something with college or college degrees.”

Weeks of job searching turned into months. Clark says he remembers the pressure he was under to find a job to help support the household he was living in.