Rose's Good Company
She may pile a few homeless guys in a truck and drive them around to stores and factories to fill out applications. She calls restaurant or store owners she knows and asks if they're hiring. She hits up well-off admirers for donations; one recently gave her $500, which she used to take a gang of unem-ployed ex-cons out to Holiday's restaurant. Some had been "eating out of garbage cans," she says. "They ordered pancakes . . . and you would have thought they won the lottery."
Martin acknowledges the past year has been bleak even for a woman as determined as she. "I used to get a job within a week or two. Now to get a job for one of my ex-cons it takes at least seven or eight months." Of the eighty-some people she counts as clients, just two are currently working regularly, though others have odd jobs like mowing lawns. The number had been higher in past months, but several of her people recently were laid off or had their hours cut drastically.
Martin is upset that a prosperous city like Ann Arbor doesn't do more to help those living on the edges. "People go to restaurants and ball games," she says. "They don't want to believe there's poverty here."
So why does Martin persist in such a thankless task? "I'm good at it," she answers. "I didn't pick it. It picked me . . . because I didn't mind going the whole distance and giving you hope."