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Bouncing Back Part 2

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By Faith Jessie.
Kole Rose and Eric Conklin are two men looking for work and living in an emergency shelter at the Volunteers of America in Binghamton.

Rose has been unsuccessful in his search for a job but he finally got some good news - not a job, but a more permanent place to live.

“I moved in Friday night." said Rose.

It's still at the VOA, but the studio apartment gives rose more independence.

“I feel pretty happy, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something," said Rose.

Meanwhile Conklin is still waiting for a break but Patrecia McCormack understands that feeling. McCormack volunteers at the Salvation Army as the receptionist and once called the streets her home.

"I felt the worst I’ve probably ever felt in my life," said McCormack. "Just feeling that there are no options and that you are pretty much a burden on everyone you know.”

In 2013 McCormack was staying in emergency housing at the YWCA when church friends helped her find an apartment. McCormack volunteers with Eric Conklin and knows firsthand how quickly one event can change your life

"It seems like, it was in their control to not end up on the streets, but unless you live through it you really don’t understand that it’s not always in your control," said McCormack.

Eric says the Salvation Army helps him survive.

"When you’re homeless, programs like this could mean the difference between eating today and maybe not eating for a week," said Conklin.

Services like the food pantry at the Salvation Army along with shelter programs like those at the VOA help people to get back on their feet.

"Most people, especially if they end up going from the shelter to one of the supportive housing programs, by the time they leave that program, they really have stabilized," said Shari Weiss, Southern Tier Homeless Coalition, Chair. "They’ve developed the life skills they need, they have employment, or school, they get their benefits into place. There were no programs when I was coming up."

"So I saw all the bad influences and I followed them. I didn’t have tools to show me to be better than what I saw," said Conklin. "I just accepted it as the norm… that’s just the way it was."

Eric also said funding for these services is important

“For people who have never been in that situation, they don’t understand why programs like these are necessary and why finding for programs like this is necessary," said Conklin.

“People think there are never ending funds for all of these organizations and there’s not," said McCormack.

Even with the programs put in place, the transition takes time.

“It doesn't happen overnight," said Rose.

Eric is finding his past is a continual roadblock to moving forward

“The computer systems will see a red flag with the gaps from your unemployment and you won’t even get the interview to try and explain that hey, I’m a recovering alcoholic now," said Conklin. "You don’t get that opportunity to say that hey, I’m doing better now. I just need a chance."

A second chance is exactly what Kole Rose got. After pouring through countless job applications, yesterday Rose was offered a job. He’s now working as a salesman for a company called Energy Resources. It’s a small step towards a bigger dream.

“I want to have my own [commercial] truck… most of my family drives trucks, my brothers, my sister, my cousins… I just want to do the same thing,” said Rose

Conklin isn't giving up on his goals either.

“The worst thing you can ever do is to give up hope. There’s always hope whether you realize it or not," said Conklin