Ward 7 resident Michael Covin spends much of his time helping others secure employment, training, and a better life. The Department of Employment Services (DOES) Program manager has resided East of the River for more than10 years including a stint in Anacostia, Dupont Park and now Greenway.
“We feel this part of the city has a quiet pride to it. We moved here because we chose to not because it was more affordable,” said Covin who lives in a three-bedroom semi-detached house with his wife, Dawn, and three daughters – Logan, Kaylan, and Aydan. Their oldest daughter, Christian, is currently studying at Temple University.
Before moving to Southeast, Covin, a North Carolina native born in Fort Bragg to military parents, graduated from Fayetteville State University. After graduation, Covin worked in New York City for a while then relocated to Logan Circle “before it became desirable” after following “the love of my life here because I had to be closer to her.”
Dawn Covin, like her husband, was a military brat and no stranger to moving and relocating from time to time. The couple, who first met in North Carolina, did not hesitate to pull up stakes and move to Atlanta around 2009 for what they thought were better opportunities. It proved to be a mistake for the family after they learned that “Atlanta is not DC further south. There is only one DC!”
“It was fine when I was making the same money I made in DC, but when I changed jobs and my salary changed [the Peach State experiment failed],” Covin said recalling his three-year stint in Georgia as a Workforce Development Manager.
The Atlanta experience, even with its significant southern charm and hospitality, made the Covin family appreciate the DC area even more and particularly East of the River “where it reminds us of the South with its sprawling lawns.”
In his work for DOES, Covin, 52, covers and manages the American Job Centers that are located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE and Minnesota Avenue NE. He was promoted to this position in 2019 after serving residents for the prior five years as a DOES Workforce Development Specialist.
It’s his job to make sure that District residents interested in various employment options are efficiently job-ready and appropriately trained. This entails leading clients from orientation and assessment. to services that include resume creation, interviewing skills, and online applications.
He reviews hundreds of training folders each quarter to ensure strict Department of Labor compliance while providing millions of dollars in. Covin has touched the lives of literally thousands of residents in all wards of the city, honing their skillsets and assisting them to enhanced futures.
Although Covin loves his job, he realizes there is a limit in the amount of people he can effectively serve. “My biggest challenge is being so busy helping those I encounter while knowing that thousands more in the city don’t get the information on the much needed services we offer,” Covin laments.
Covin has garnered a great reputation amongst his clients for being persuasive, compassionate, driving, and resourceful.
“I met him through the DOES program about nine years ago,” said Christopher Turner, a Returning Citizen. “He made me more employable. He doesn’t just help you and give you something for nothing. He demands that you do stuff to help yourself. I call him the Michael Jordan of resumes. He shopped me in front of different employers and really helped me,” said Turner, 56, who now considers Covin one of the most influential people in his life.
Covin makes it his mission to know all the latest training programs and workshops offered to city residents, not only those at DOES, but other DC departments as well. He knows about the best summer camps within the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the latest community programs at the DC Department of Human Services (DHS). His knowledge is crucial in pointing people in the right direction.
Everything has not always been smooth for Covin. He, like many of us, has experienced hardships and heartache. For instance, while in Georgia, Covin had to temporarily receive public assistance in the form of food stamps.
Later, after returning to the District and acquiring less than lavish housing for his family, Covin had to admit himself into a homeless shelter, the Central Union Mission, for a while because there was no space for him to stay with them.
Partially to stay humble, remind himself of his personal and professional mission, and to motivate his clients, Covin keeps his Union Mission identification and his food stamp paperwork closeby.
“Honoring God and sacrificing my time and efforts to see others come out of homelessness and other barriers motivates me. African Americans discovering their passions and buying homes motivates me. Fathers overcoming their barriers and their past to provide and lead their families motivates me,” Covin said while stating that hugs from his youngest daughter, Aydan, also are a highlight for him.
Making A Difference
Covin was and still is important to Faith Gazdzicki. They met about three years ago when she joined his place of worship, the Anacostia River Church, which at the time fellowshipped at Anacostia High School before moving to the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) during the pandemic. He was a welcoming member who provided her with helpful resources when she was in search of full-time employment.
“He is extremely resourceful, very kind, and neighborly,” said Gazdzicki, who is a Human Resource Manager for a non-profit organization.
Colvin envisions becoming an entrepreneur within the next 10 years and owning franchises of Capitol Career Connections staffing companies (www.capitolcareerconnections.com). They would be in inner cities and cater to the minority population who often face economic and social barriers.
“Serving those in need is my passion, Colvine said. “I want to leave a legacy of homeownership, entrepreneurship, public service and African Americans carving a lane that of success that is family centered and nurturing to our children. I want us to realize that with community, we all win.”