Fox Hill Investor has History of Helping Others Beat Obstacles

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Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 8:00am
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Tom Rodman has a history of helping people overcome obstacles.

Rodman, who first became a Lincolnville summer resident in 1960, is the driving force behind the effort to open an alcohol rehabilitation center in Camden.

Rodman and a group of investors purchased the Fox Hill Estate on Bay View Road earlier this year. The group plans to lease the property to McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and the top psychiatric hospital in the nation, to open a residential rehabilitation center.

In 1984, Rodman began working to help an entirely different group of people – the chronically unemployed in East Harlem, New York City. He is chairman and co-founder of STRIVE, an organization that helps people who, even though they have job skills, need better “soft skills” to help them find work.

Rodman and his two other co-founders, Sam Hartwell and Rob Carmona, realized that the lack of occupational skills was not the greatest barrier to employment. Rather it was poor attitude, sloppy self-presentation and inadequate job search techniques that sabotaged the efforts of those who wanted to work.

Carmona, an East Harlem native who had overcome multiple incarcerations and substance abuse to earn a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University, likes to say that “STRIVE is an empowerment movement disguised as an employment agency.”

STRIVE used a “tough love” approach to work readiness, focusing on low-income New Yorkers’ attitudes and behaviors. By design, there was never any hesitation to dismiss those who weren’t showing they were ready to succeed.

The STRIVE program now has offices in more than 20 cities in the U.S. and overseas, include an office in Boston. The organization continues to provide training and support to people who face significant barriers to getting and keeping jobs.

Rodman is now hoping to help people fight yet another obstacle. The proposed facility at Fox Hill will provide life-saving treatment to those who need clinical assistance to both become and remain sober. He has been fighting for this proposal, navigating the complex process because he believes it is the right thing to do. And he’s hoping the Camden community will agree.