AURORA, Colo. — A warehouse in Aurora buzzes with activity. Nail guns fire, sewing machines hum, and packages "thump thump thump" as they're filled with product.
The people making all that noise are as varied as the work they do.
"The whole reason we exist is so we can help men and women transition from our program to a job in the community," Andy Magel said.
He directs this place, the Mile High Workshop. It's a manufacturing business, making anything from purses to pillows, and Magel hires people with barriers to employment to make it run.
"The people who come here, they need somebody to give them an opportunity - they need a yes," Magel said.
He gives them that "yes," and then some. Mile High Workshop hires people experiencing homelessness, recovering addicts and former prisoners. They go through a six-month program, and Mile High helps them find permanent employment once that time period ends.
Usually, those jobs are somewhere else, but Edward Lafayette got hired on here full-time working in quality control.
"Basically what I do is I correct the mistakes before they go out the door," he said.
Lafayette says he was homeless on and off for about 40 years. His most recent resting spot was his SUV that he parked near the South Platte River.
"I fell into this job real good, real easy," he said. "First interview, I had it."
Now, on top of his job requirements, he acts like a mentor to other people going through the six-month program.
Amanda Morales is a bit of a mentor, too. She got hired after attending a résumé building session. Her husband is a graduate of Mile High's program.
"They cook a second look at them and actually give them a chance to be better, to get better and to actually get jobs," she said. "I think a lot of people don't take into consideration that people with backgrounds still have families that they need to take care of."
Magel has customers he needs to take care of. Despite Mile High's nonprofit status, two-thirds of the Workshop's expenses are covered by the work his employees do. They make up from foundations, individual donations, churches and other philanthropy. Magel says REDF in San Francisco is a big contributor.
"One of the things I like about our model is that the work our employees do is real work," he said. "If we don't have work, we don't get to bring more people into the program."
If you know someone who Mile High Workshop can help, fill out the application on their website ().