Voices of Hope – Benjamin B.

I spent 17 and 1/2 years in prison away from my home and daughter. When I was preparing for release, I saw a brochure explaining the Ready4Work reentry program. I had initially been planning to go back home to Bainbridge, Georgia, but thought I would take a chance and write to Operation New Hope to learn more. A few weeks later, the Ready4Release team visited me at the prison and told me that if I came to Jacksonville, they would take care of the rest. And it was all true.

The team held me up through the last few weeks I was behind bars. On my first day out, they set me up with transitional housing where I was quickly hired as a handyman. I attended Ready4Work classes every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and then I painted houses every evening from 3:30-10:00. Because I was fortunate enough to have work while going through the program, I was able to give my weekly stipends to others who had greater financial needs. During my 5 weeks in the program, I was so lucky to meet Nelson Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter along with Vice President Pence and Ivanka Trump, who all visited this amazing organization – proof that how Operation New Hope is helping the community is really significant!

After graduating Ready4Work, I completed all the steps necessary to operate my own business and Glory Homes Historic Restoration has been employing me as a subcontractor ever since. I have been performing restoration all over the Springfield neighborhood, and I’m currently renovating the oldest row-houses in the country. I’ve been saving my money, paying off old debts and was eventually able to buy a motorcycle. I’ve stayed busy with work during the pandemic and life is really good. I am now focusing my attention on how I can give back and help.

I am proud of so many things, but what I’m most proud of is my daughter. At 19, she was recently sworn in as a police officer in Pellum, Georgia – the youngest female officer in the country. She is so smart and hard working. I am so happy to have her back in my life.

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