Finding hope and a home with JLL

Philip Winston says job changed his life and gave him a family

When Philip Winston found himself on hard times experiencing homelessness and temporarily living behind the Hurt Building in Atlanta, he never imagined that months later he’d be working in that very building as an operating engineer for JLL in 2016.

He didn’t anticipate being an engineer at all, in fact. “When I first started, I didn’t know a wrench from a pair of pliers,” said Philip, “Everyone took the time to teach me everything I know.”

While Philip started in a janitorial role with the previous owner of the 100-year-old building, he found himself interested in the technical side of things. The building was sold in 2016 and JLL took over management. With support from his new JLL teammates, he stayed at the building and mastered the needed skills to move into his role as an operating engineer. “I learn something new every day. Whatever issue I have, the answer is a phone call away. People don’t hesitate to come help you out.”

A typical day for him starts with a walkthrough of the building to survey for any damages including leaks, power outages, or anything that may require immediate attention. Additionally, a large part of his day includes preventative maintenance and answering tenant work orders.

The kindness of his team was especially prevalent when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Philip was personally affected. In March, he contracted the virus and found himself in the hospital for 11 days. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” he said.

In the 11 days he was out, his manager, Senior Chief Engineer, Montez Given, brought food to his home five times and he received calls from his teammates every single day to check on him. “The support I received helped get me through it. It was a terrible experience, but it showed me how much my team really cared. You don’t find that anywhere these days,” said Philip.

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When he returned to work, the support continued. Philip shared, “I wanted to be very cautious. My team always made it clear that our health was the most important thing.” He felt encouraged to ease back into his schedule and is now back to full health.

Though the experience was challenging, Philip says it fostered camaraderie and a sense of belonging like he’s never experienced before. “The way the team has surrounded us has been incredible. They made sure everyone had food to eat, made sure everyone was safe and had transportation to work. We’ve come together as a family. I don’t see myself anywhere else. This will be the last job I have,” says Philip.

“This job changed my life. The people I work with are my best friends. They’re my family.” 

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