Voices of Hope – Charlotte Smith

In 2000, Charlotte Smith was indicted on drug charges by the federal government and served five years. “When you’re in prison, the first thing you do is go through a phase of playing the innocent role. ‘I didn’t do it.  I’m here wrongfully.’” She paused, laughed, and shook her head before conceding, “Some are there wrongfully, but I was there because I did it. In fact, I should have been there longer because I did a lot of deeds I didn’t get caught for. But after a time, I eventually came to the realization that in order for me to do better, I have to do better. I had a changed mind.”

“However, I still didn’t have too much hope.  I was afraid of what would happen to me after coming out from behind the walls.” When Charlotte was released from prison, she was expected to get a job within the first 10 days and found work on a night shift, but remembered how unsafe she felt walking home late at night as a woman alone. She didn’t know how she was going to make it, but smiled when she recalled, “By the grace of God and the heart of those who wanted to help, I was given the opportunity to enroll in the Ready4Work program. And it blew me away! They helped me find a job. They helped me get an apartment. They helped me get my kids back.”

“One thing I learned about Operation New Hope is that they absolutely care. But they cannot go any further than your mind can allow.”  Speaking to the current class of Ready4Work clients, Charlotte advised, “you’re going to have to put the work in – no excuses! You have to have a renewed mind. We have to prove something to society – we have to prove that we are going to be responsible citizens.”

After graduating from the Ready4Work program in 2005, Charlotte was hired by Allied Plastics, and she has been with the company ever since. She recalled working her way up from the bottom, to assistant supervisor, and then to Customer Service Representative, where she now works directly with the president of the company.  “I am truly blessed! I believe God used the Ready4Work program for a reason. Operation New Hope was the footprint that helped me start my way. I am a living witness that Second Chances do matter!”

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