Employee Spotlight: Kareem Oneal

Kareem Oneal has served in three VOA positions since joining the team two years ago. He started as a Support Staff member at the Nevada Cares Campus. After three weeks, he was promoted to Diversion and Intake Specialist at the Nevada Cares Campus. Now, Kareem is the supervisor for Reno Works, a workforce development program in partnership with the City of Reno that helps people experiencing homelessness secure employment and, ideally, obtain housing.

Kareem has lived experience and shared, “I believe that I’m at VOA because of the past that I’ve had struggling with drugs and alcohol and my drug addiction that led me to homelessness. The population of people that we deal with are struggling with homelessness. I feel like I’ve been divinely designed to do what I’m doing because I have understanding and empathy. I understand from a person that’s been there, done that,  you don’t have to continue to live that way.”

Kareem went to jail and prison due to his previous drug addiction. After getting clean and sober, he had to rebuild his resume and work skills to be competitive to get a job. He encourages Reno Works participants to be honest and forthright about their backgrounds. He added, “By sitting in that interview and painting that picture and helping them understand that I am a man today that has taken accountability for my past, this is why you have the man that you have sitting in front of you, and you don’t have to worry about that old person.”

 Kareem’s optimism about the future and the community’s spirit of collaboration, “Volunteers of America and the partners involved –  the private donors, Washoe County, Hope Springs, Our Place – are collectively working to make things better. That’s what I see, and I’m excited to be a part of that. I’m excited to know that there’s still room for growth.”

Kareem was featured in Washoe County’s “Home: Rebuilding Hope for Washoe’s Homeless” documentary and recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety.

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