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“I moved out when I was 16 years old, and I got caught with armed burglary charges. I was sent to a youthful offender camp and was released in 1999. I stayed out of trouble until 2009 when I got into opiates. I was doing stupid stuff like selling pills and ending up getting caught when I broke into a storage unit. I was sentenced to 21 months and was released again in 2013.
“I knew that if I continued with the same lifestyle, then nothing good would come of it, so I committed to changing my ways. I enrolled in the Center of Hope program in Clearwater, Florida and became a leader in that program. However, my past caught me again, and I was transported back to Duval and charged with prior offenses that I hadn’t been punished for yet.
“I was released from prison the last time on April 26, 2016, and I came to Operation New Hope. I worked hard in the Ready4Work program and earned Student of Week. Applying everything I learned from the team, I got an immediate offer from Miller Electric earning $8.55 per hour. I was so excited to have this opportunity to pursue a real career path and entered their apprenticeship program. I just completed my journeyman license, and I’m now making $25 per hour. Next year, I’ll earn another raise and be making $32 per hour. Miller is a great company. It makes me feel good that people see my hard work and make me feel appreciated.
“My life is so good now. I’ve been clean since 2011. I bought a nice 4 bedroom house. I have a 4 year old daughter, and I’m engaged to be married. I just took my first vacation in 6 years, and I earned it. I finally got my voting rights restored and received my passport, both of which are a big accomplishment for me! My life is full of serenity, and I’m financially and mentally secure.
“People always ask me how I did it, and I tell them that I surround myself with good people who are the building blocks of success. Operation New Hope has given me a better outlook on life, and I’m so thankful.”
With the skills learned and confidence gained from our Ready4Release, Ready4Work and Ready4Success programs, our participants go on to become productive community members and build successful careers earning living wages. To read more stories of transformation, success and hope, visit – Voices of Hope.