Joe’s Story

Staff Spotlight: Joe’s Story

Joe Klocek once had a promising career in standup comedy. He’d gotten his start in the 90s, performing at San Francisco clubs like Cobb’s and the Punch Line. He went on to open for comedians like Dave Chapelle, and was even invited to do a two-month residency at a comedy club in Shanghai, China. But as he refined his skills onstage, his life offstage was falling apart. Addictions to drugs and alcohol were ruining his relationships, draining his bank account, and threatening his career.

“I started to lose the big stuff and my life got smaller and smaller,” Joe says.

He lost his car, his phone, and numerous gigs. His girlfriend told him he had to find a new place to stay and he felt his will to live falter.

Joe needed help and was willing to give rehab a shot. But he doubted there was a program out there that would meet his criteria: it had to be long-term, it had to teach marketable skills (after 20 years in standup comedy, he had few), and it had to be free. A Google search proved him wrong. As it turned out, there was one such program: St. Anthony’s Father Alfred Center.

It was tough at first. Detoxing in a new place surrounded by strangers, Joe says he didn’t sleep for a month. But the structured, supportive environment at Father Alfred Center kept him busy and engaged. At the time, men in recovery gained work experience in the St. Anthony’s dining room. When Joe began working there, he discovered a new sense of gratitude, responsibility, and pride.

“You could see people moving through the line who had profound mental, emotional, and physical issues. And they’re homeless. I realized that I was lucky. And I was part — a small part — of this thing that’s helping.”

After completing the program at Father Alfred Center, Joe stayed on in the Dining Room as a dishwasher. While there, he got to know David Bransten from St. Anthony’s Workforce Development program, which helps prepare men in recovery for the job market. David was planning to expand the program’s educational offerings and was looking for help. He needed someone who knew what rehab was like, but could also command the stage in front of a tough crowd — someone, in other words, just like Joe.

Two years later, Joe works as a career planner, teaching a holistic curriculum that includes classes on resume-building and resilience. While he still does comedy once a week (mostly on Zoom these days), he’s found that his most gratifying performances are the ones he does at St. Anthony’s, working with the men at Father Alfred Center.

“At the end of the day with those classes, I feel like I float home. It’s just so much more fulfilling.”

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