Sylvester and his brothers lived with two different sets of foster parents when they were younger. Their mother was addicted to drugs and their physically abusive father was in prison. Eventually, their grandmother took them in and they moved to Manatee County. All three boys ended up with extensive arrest records. They went to jail for things like stealing and selling drugs throughout their teenage years. Sylvester says the boys’ behavior was not his grandmother’s fault. They were “hanging out with the wrong crowd,” and did not pay much attention to anything their grandmother said to them about their friends.
As an adult, Sylvester considered himself a functioning addict. He had a car, a girlfriend, a job, a baby boy, and a serious drug problem. Eventually, he ended up in jail again on two different felony charges along with several misdemeanors.
The birth of his son gave Sylvester the motivation he needed to begin making different choices. Two months before his release from prison last year, he heard about a program called MAPS—Manatee Adult Pathway to Success. He learned that the program was a partnership between Turning Points, Goodwill and other agencies that helped people with felony convictions get jobs and allowed them to begin leading productive lives. Sylvester signed up to participate in the program.
He was optimistic about turning his life around, but Sylvester’s many years of drug abuse had taken a toll on him. When he left prison, Sylvester left with a long rap sheet, thousands of dollars in debt for traffic fines, a suspended license and a diagnosis of Hepatitis C. However, he also left with an appointment at Turning Points to see Kathy, Goodwill’s Career Development Facilitator.
At Turning Points, Sylvester enrolled in the Hepatitis C clinic. The program does monthly blood testing and provides him with $70,000 worth of medication at no cost to him. His most recent bloodwork report shows that Sylvester will soon be free of the disease.
Despite his many barriers to self-sufficiency, Kathy helped Sylvester get a job with Manatee County. Sylvester was serious about turning his life around. He has been working full-time for the last four months. His job gives him enough money for his living expenses and allows him to save money so that he can begin paying off the traffic fines. Then, he plans to go about the process of reinstating his driver license. Sylvester wants to get a commercial driver license and become a truck driver. Kathy also introduced him to another of Goodwill’s partner agencies, Community Solutions 360. Now, Sylvester is working on improving his credit score, taking budgeting classes and hopes to one day become a homeowner.
Sylvester also has one very important long- term goal. He wants to regain custody of his son, who currently lives with Sylvester’s grandmother. He wants to break the generational cycle of drug abuse that he experienced. Sylvester is thankful that he had the assistance he needed when he was ready to take responsibility for himself and for his son. It’s what we do . . .