Clint moved to Florida hoping for a fresh start. He had spent five years in prison and was determined not to return. Clint was familiar with the statistics – he knew that nearly 70% of released prisoners were arrested within three years of their release, almost 80% within 6 years, and more than 80% within nine years. He figured he had a decent chance of “staying out” and he was not going to make the same mistakes he had made when he was younger.
Clint was a smart guy. In prison, he became friends with some of the older inmates, who talked with him about the importance of education. Clint spent most of his time reading books about behavioral science and business. He learned things about himself that helped him understand the choices he had made and how to change his thought process. He also took the time to learn about entrepreneurship, as he knew his criminal record would make him less attractive to potential employers.
Upon his release, after looking for work for several months on his own, he heard about the free Job Connection career services program while shopping at Goodwill. Clint met with a Career Development Facilitator (CDF) who asked him questions about his living situation, finances and work history. She said she wanted to find out if he had any other needs because she knew where he could find assistance with things like education, housing and food.
Clint’s CDF assured him that there were employers willing to give him a second chance and coached him on how to talk about his past, encouraging him to be honest. She told him that one out of every three adults in the U.S. have a criminal background and even shared her own experience with the criminal justice system. Clint worked with this CDF to create a resume. She gave him a voucher so he could pick out interview attire from the store. After working with Clint for several weeks, his CDF felt comfortable recommending him to Goodwill’s HR recruiter, telling the recruiter that Clint had been on time to all of his appointments and was always friendly and respectful. Clint interviewed for a Donor Greeter position and he got the job!
Clint worked hard at his new job. His CDF volunteered at the donor door for a few hours during the holidays and she was impressed by how friendly and accommodating he was with the people who were dropping of their donations. Clint showed her how to sort the donations, taking pride in the way he was able to keep up with the holiday rush. He talked to her about his business plan and she encouraged him to reach out to Sarasota County’s Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the Small Business Development Center for assistance with starting his own business.
After a year of employment with Goodwill, Clint quit his job and started his own handyman business. He recently contacted the Job Connection for help but this time as a business owner seeking employees. Clint was getting referrals from Home Depot, which was keeping him so busy that he needed to hire additional help. The CDF knew exactly who to refer for the job: she had recently met a young man who was having a hard time finding a job because of his criminal background. She asked Clint if he would be willing to meet with the young man and give him a second chance. Not surprisingly, Clint agreed. He said that he was familiar with Goodwill’s mission: changing lives through the power of work. Goodwill had helped Clint change his own life and now he felt privileged to do the same for someone else.
It’s what we do ...