Operation Reform

November 18-19, 2015
Jacksonville, FL

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Breaking The Cycle

Children of ex-offenders are more likely to become offenders themselves.
Operation New Hope is redirecting the path they’ve been given by
providing the emotional and financial stability the need to succeed.
Help break the cycle. Give them hope.

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Work Wanted: For those with a criminal record, Operation New Hope paves way for a second chance

One moment can change the course of someone’s career – and life – forever. That’s one of the lessons I heard from B.P., a client of Operation New Hope. B.P., a smart, articulate, and thoughtful woman in her 30s, had it all: a degree from a top notch business school, a career that included working for a Big Five accounting firm, a great boyfriend, and her own business. Then she made a decision that took it all away… read full story

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Julie Delegal: One man’s mission demonstrates the power of a job

Kevin Gay is president and founder of a groundbreaking organization that puts nonviolent ex-offenders back into the workforce. His nonprofit mission, Operation New Hope, started with a question:

“When are guys like you going to get it?”

The question came from his Episcopal priest, Davette Turk, who wanted him to see that serving others didn’t require him to go on overseas mission trips.

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Year Founded


Ex-offenders successfully placed in the workforce

Breaking The Cycle

Children indirectly served


Homes Restored or Built

President Bill Clinton

“Since 2003, the project has worked with religious and nongovernmental groups and local government in seventeen cities to train newly released men and women, place them and help them keep jobs.  The results of their efforts have been impressive.  Out of more than 4,800 returnees, only 1.9 percent of Ready4Work participants were incarcerated for a new offense within 6 months of their release, and only 5 percent were in jail within a year.  In many states, the average recidivism rate in the first year is 20 percent.  Moreover the cost of the program is $4,500 per person a year, compared with $25,000 to $40,000 per year for incarceration.”

Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao

“You are putting into action the President’s vision to give those who have paid their debt to society a second chance… The results show tremendous promise… So much remains to be done.  But these results give us hope that, with the proper help, those most at risk in our society can turn their lives around.”

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“A local nonprofit organization is offering to do all the legwork ahead of time on job applicants, like background checks and drug testing.  All it asks for in return is a job interview for all its members…Ready4Work is too good for businesses to pass up.”

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Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao

“Gainful employment is a turning point for all people.  But this is particularly true for those who are seeking a fresh start in life.  Ready4Work is good for families, communities and employers.  And it offers us a real chance to break the cycle of crime and recidivism that plagues so many communities.”

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Time Magazine

“Mentor an Ex-Convict.  Volunteer for an organization like Ready4Work and provide job advise and emotional support to one of the 650,000 adults released from incarceration each year.”

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Florida Times Union

“Ready4Work has received the support of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.  In December a group of clergy signed a document joining in an “Army of Compassion,” which is committed to assisting our sisters and brothers upon release from incarceration.”

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Florida Times Union

“Yet, all is not lost – if people like Holcomb can find someone with a respected voice and connections to vouch for them.  One of the places they can find that voice is through Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work program.”

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Former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford

“Our recidivism rate is 5 percent.  That’s an amazing number when you consider that they’re dealing with some of the worst of the worst offenders – people with drug habits and mental health issues.”

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President Clinton Gives Local Program Props In New Book

“Clinton isn’t the first U.S. President to recognize Kevin Gay.  In 2003, President George W. Bush invited him to the White House for his achievement of the Ready4Work program.”

The Florida Times Union

“Each success saves taxpayers roughly $20,000 a year in jail time.”

“You have a program in your city that is actually making a difference and is considered a model for the rest of the nation.”

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The Florida Times Union

“Jobs are the number one key to stopping the revolving door from city streets to jails and prisons, community leaders said this year during the anti-crime Jacksonville Journey… A bill introduced in the City Council last week would place an emphasis on hiring ex-offenders…”

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The Daily Record

The Daily Record | Nonprofit News | October 7, 2010

“In 2002 Operation New Hope was chosen by President George W. Bush to implement Jacksonville’s Ready4Work program funded through the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.  Today the Ready4Work program serves as a model for re-entry programs in Florida and across the United States.  Ready4Work’s success has produced a recidivism rate this is 50 percent better than Jacksonville’s and the state of Florida’s, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in criminal justice costs.”


“…Mayor John Peyton said he wants to give special incentives to companies that do the clean up by hiring ex-felons for the jobs.”

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Mayor John Peyton

Jacksonville Business Journal | Businesses Can Support Community Program | May 16, 2008

“…the business community should pay close attention…There will be opportunities for both small businesses and large companies to take part in this effort…Businesses can be part of the solution… Your business can partner…”

Kevin Gay

The Daily Record | Operation New Hope helps former felons be ‘Ready4Work’ | September 9, 2010

“Studies have shown that the only promise of keeping people from going back to prison is keeping a job.”


News4jax.com | Businesses Surveyed About Hiring Ex-Cons | July 17, 2009

“110 businesses in the city say yes to employing past offenders.  That’s because we match ex-cons with the jobs they’re best suited for and teach them the skills they need to keep employees happy… Ready4Work is the best crime-prevention tool we have in Jacksonville and in America.”

The Florida Times Union

Florida Times Union | Calling All Corporations | March 21, 2008

“…help break the stigma of companies being ostracized for hiring ex-offenders.”

Florida Reform

Florida Reform | Prison Reform: A Course Correction | May 1, 2009

“What employers mainly want to know is whether the employee is reliable, on time, dressed properly and has the right attitude.  That’s just what we’re bringing them – we’re bringing them someone ready to work.”

Ronnie Bertka, District Manager Jiffy Lube

“He’s never late, always on time…He’s grown into our company.  I’ve never had any problems out of him. It’s been a really good experience…You’ve got to take a chance on somebody…At least you know what you have upfront when the person comes on.”

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Nick Malie, Human Resources Director, Beaver Street Fisheries

The Daily Record | Operation New Hope helps former felons be ‘Ready4Work’ | September 9, 2010

“It seems that when they are given a second chance, they tend to turn out to be exceptional employees…I think other businesses should look at these employees if they can.  For us, it was the right thing to do.”

Rich Uhrie, Vice President of Operations | Allied Plastics Company, Inc.

“Among all the candidates, they rank among the best…If you didn’t know their background, there’s no way you could tell any difference.”

Jacksonville Business Journal

“He finds program participants work ethic is stronger and they are more prepared for interviews than most candidates.”

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Ladi Stepps, CEO BrinMar Construction & Development Group

“We are willing and open to employing those individuals that other people would overlook, giving them another chance…If you show compassion, you’ll be surprised how it turns into your benefit.”

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Bob Bailey, Granger Lumber

“If a young man made a mistake and paid for his mistake, he deserves a second chance…that’s my business belief…the longer an inmate was incarcerated, the more motivated he is to rebuild his life.”

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Marvin Williams

“I’m on my way… I was blessed cause I didn’t think I was going to get a job that soon….I went to Operation New Hope four days after I got our, and they prepared me for everything that leads me to stand here today.”

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WJXT Jacksonville

“One of the ex-offenders we hired is now a store manager, and another is an assistant manager.  Each has excellent management skills and are both great mentors to other ex-offenders we’ve hired… There are many misconceptions out there about ex-offenders.  We try to look beyond that label and consider each person on his or her merits – on a case by case basis… Give me an employee with good basic skills, and who is serious about having a positive future, and we will train him or her to do the job.”

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Ruthie Richardson

“I was having problems internally because I felt so stupid, but they never looked at me like that…They treated me like a smart person again.”

Sharnika Williams

“What this program has equipped me with is employability and life skills that help me go back out to the community and obtaining legal work instead of going back to a life of crime.”

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Jessica Enriquez

“I’ve done a complete 360.  I’m even thinking about going back to school.”

Salvatore Arena

“It was the final thing that helped me to break the cycle…Since ’91, I wanted to make a change in my life, but could never get over the hump.”


Sean Thomas

“I wanted to change and better myself. I made a mistake, and they helped me get back on my feet.”

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Sharnika Williams

“I realize that I have made poor choices in my past, but I don’t want those choices to become my future.”

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Debra Holcomb

“I just got caught up with the wrong people…All I want is a chance to prove myself.”

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Kelly Whisby

“I’ve got an income.  That feels good…”

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Mr. Williams

“The job is providing me with a chance to get back on my feet.”

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Gerald Dove, Jr.

“Without those people to stick with me, I don’t know what I would have done.  I’m very grateful that people gave me another chance.”

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Charlotte Smith

“They teach you how to go about new things and they don’t give up…”

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Jamal Ricks

“I was mad at first, but it (Ready4Work) made me learn you can fall down and make it to the top…I’m doing it not just for me, but for a lot of guys I left behind in prison who didn’t get a second chance.”

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Mary M

“I have gained the ability to cope with changes in my life, juggling all aspects of life, including children and work. I felt really good about the program. It helped me to learan alot about myself, and that people really can change!”

Kevin Gay

“Children do not get to choose their future, but you can help break the cycle of incarceration by donating to our new initiative.”

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