Ronald Broach Spreads the Tenets of BOSS
The nonprofit he works for puts those who have fallen victim to the perils of poor choices, bad luck, even crime on the road to success.
Ronald Broach knows firsthand what BOSS can do for those who are down and out.
Photo by Megan Small
Ronald Broach helps turn lives around inside an inconspicuous white building just north of Oakland City Hall. The people who enter his ground-floor office arrive in search of employment, housing, or health care, vital needs that have escaped their grasp because of bad luck, bad choices, or both. Broach puts these needs within reach, offering a trove of resources and a wealth of compassion. “There are a great deal of positive aspects in everyone that sits in front of me,” he explained, “and I focus on the positivity, while molding them and polishing them in areas where they are deficient.”
He serves as a case manager for Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, or BOSS, an East Bay nonprofit that provides various social services at numerous facilities across Alameda County. He operates out of BOSS’ Career Training and Employment Center, where job-seeking individuals who have a disability, are homeless, or have been formerly incarcerated, can drop in to polish their résumé, practice their interviewing skills, or search for open positions. Beyond such basic assistance, though, the center offers a deeper, more-attentive, support.
Broach described meeting a man who had stopped by recently, just tagging along with a friend involved in BOSS programming. The newcomer showed interest in what he saw at the center, so Broach gave him some literature. Shortly thereafter, he ran into trouble. “He left, went out, and went to jail; went to jail for four or five days,” the case manager recounted. “His first stop when he was released was right here. Didn’t have a place to stay, didn’t have a job, not anything.”
Right away, Broach found the man a shelter to sleep at, ushered him through the county probation department’s intake process, and procured him maintenance work at an apartment complex—all in less than a week.
Although this man got back on his feet quickly, achieving long-term stability will require sustained, concerted effort. So far, at least, he’s exhibited promise. “He’s continuing to show up and show out,” declared Broach, invoking a popular BOSS motivational motto. “That’s all I can ask, is to be active and be receptive to guidance. And it’s looking good for him.”
For the 47-year-old Broach, contributing to other people’s rehabilitation bears special personal significance. “I’m able to express to them that I understand, I know what it takes to be successful in this program, and I understand the challenges,” he said, referring to the fact that before he started dispensing BOSS services, he was receiving them. “I get a great deal of gratification just to be in this position where I began—I began in the seat of the guy that I’m talking to now.”
Despite growing up under the care of loving and devoted parents, Broach revealed, “I’ve made some mistakes throughout my journey, and unfortunately it caused me to be involved with the criminal justice system.” Broach credited his mom and dad for laying the moral foundation that allowed him to thrive under BOSS after he encountered the nonprofit two years ago. Initially, Executive Director Donald Frazier hired him to pick up trash around Downtown Berkeley as part of BOSS’ Clean City partnership with the city’s department of public works. After proving himself in that role, he was promoted to counselor at Ursula Sherman Village, a shelter the nonprofit runs in northwest Berkeley. He discovered a taste for social justice activism through BOSS’ Community Organizing Team, and eventually assumed the case manager position he holds at the center now.
Along the way, Broach became the center’s first program graduate by progressing through a curriculum of job and life-skills training as well as keeping gainful employment for at least 60 days. He and 10 other participants received recognition for this accomplishment at a graduation ceremony in March 2015; another 30 graduates were honored in a second ceremony in October. Both events were attended by government officials, community leaders, and law enforcement personnel. While Broach felt impressed by the turnout of dignitaries at the most recent ceremony, he drew greater inspiration from the attendance of BOSS participants representing the next graduation class. They are scheduled for their own ceremony this month, and their presence signaled to him their desire and commitment to follow in the footsteps of those who have demonstrated the transformative power of BOSS programming.
“It has worked for me,” he said. “And if I can do it, you can do it.”
To learn more about BOSS, visit www.Self-Sufficiency.org. For details about the March 24 BOSS Career Training and Employment Center graduation, call 510- 419-0669.