Jeff Humphrey

Journey from Homelessness to City Employee

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 5:04 p.m.

We’ve all seen members of Spokane’s homeless population. Just 21 months ago, City employee Rex Reishus was one of them.

“This is one of the places I used to come to sleep. It offered a little protection, a little shelter,” Reishus said as he pointed to brush-covered terraces below Riverside Avenue.

Reishus says he was more than willing to work day labor positions but that searching out life’s essentials on the street, left him little time to find a full-time job.

“Not one place does pretty much all of it, for everybody so you have to spend a lot of time actually finding the resources and then going back and forth to them,” Reishus said of his daily migration around downtown Spokane.

Reishus had lost everything including his home, marriage and sobriety when he found his salvation at the Union Gospel Mission.

“I’d gone to the UGM and started a program there to get clean and sober. They help a lot, once you’re through the program, to reintegrate you into a work place,” Reishus recalled.

What started as a 240 - hour internship with the City, led to Reishus landing a full time job with the Spokane Water Department.

“The City took me on. I was one of the first people (UGM clients) who started with the City. The UGM is really good at partnering you up with past work experience or a career-oriented job,” said Reishus.

So now, Reishus is happily carving out a new life for himself as a City grounds keeper and can once again, afford to enjoy some of his favorite pastimes like bowling.

“Rex has been a great addition to the Water Department. He has very strong work ethics and he does a really good job for the City. He impresses me each and every day,” said Ken Johnson, a foreman with the City Water Department.

Reishus says his faith in God gave him the strength to help himself up and out of the gutter. Now, Reishus worries about other homeless people still living on handouts.

“Panhandling, it’s basically a Band Aid for a gaping wound. I firmly believe that you’re better off supporting some ministry or outreach that is going to help them in the long term,” concluded Reishus.

Jerry Reese, Director of the Men’s Recovery Program at the Union Gospel Mission says he’s very proud of Reishus’ recent accomplishments.

“When I think about Rex, it’s what I work for. It just makes my heart sing. And now to watch him go out and be able to do good things in the community where he is blessing other people, where he is a servant in the community doing good things. That’s what we’re all about,” Reese said of UGM’S rehab programs.

“It took a lot of work, a lot of help from a lot of really good people and it feels wonderful to be back to being a contributing member of society,” Reishus said of his recovery.

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