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“I had a great career working as a train engineer for Conrail before a horseback riding accident left me disabled in 1998. My injury led me down a path to addiction, and a series of bad choices led to my arrest in 2015, followed by an 8 1/2 year prison sentence. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do, but I knew I needed to change. While at Gadsden Correctional, I met Operation New Hope’s Ready4Release team at a reentry job fair, and that’s where I found hope.
“After prison, I went to live at Angels of Mercy transition house in Sanford, Florida and enrolled in Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work program in Orlando, Florida. The Ready4Work program gave me a sense of security and gave me back the desire to want more for my life. I received help with building a resume and acquired the confidence I needed to return to the workforce after spending years on disability.
“Since being released only 4 months ago, I have graduated from Career Development training, obtained my driver’s license for the first time in 20 years, and started working at Popeyes. Just this week, I purchased a new vehicle! And this is just the start. I plan to go back to school at the end of the year and earn my degree for medical billing and coding. Because I can’t help anyone until I help myself, I am continuing on my recovery journey and working towards reunification with my grandchildren.
“For so long, I told myself that I couldn’t and that I wasn’t worthy. But now my motto is ‘Can’t will never know if it can unless it tries.’ With the love and support I have received at Operation New Hope, I’m always going to try now. If anyone is questioning their ability, don’t question it any longer – just go for it! We are all in charge of our own destiny. You are no longer who you were in your past. You can rewrite your own story. That’s what hope is.”
At Operation New Hope, we believe that we are all better than our worst mistake, worst day, or worst decision. We believe in people’s ability to transform their lives through commitment and hard work. We see it every day as we support our clients’ reentry and growth. 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. Read more stories of transformation, success and hope!