Voices of Hope – Julien K.

“As I was preparing to complete my 10-year prison sentence, I met Ronnie Cage from Operation New Hope at a reentry seminar at Lake Butler RMC. The Ready4Work program sounded like it was just what I needed after release, but my release officer said that I didn’t qualify for the program. So I went back to my hometown of Orlando, but God had different plans. After visiting the downtown courthouse a few days after my release, I walked over to the Ready4Work Orlando program location, and enrolled to start the program the very next week. It was the best decision I ever made.

“The entire team at Operation New Hope welcomed me with open arms. I learned so much from the program. The financial literacy and technology training, mentorship, counseling, and resume building were all so helpful. The program did everything it was designed to do and set me up for success. I took advantage of the vocational training and enrolled in the 8-week culinary program. The day after I completed the program, I was hired at Brick and Spoon in Winter Park. I then went to work preparing food at Seaworld, and now I’m working as the grill cook at AdventHealth in Welch’s Cafe. I’ve been here a month now, and I love it. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And this is just the beginning!

“My future plans are to continue my education and earn a degree in diet and nutrition so I can prepare food for patients in the hospital. My employer will pay for it, so I am working on enrolling as soon as possible. My long term goals are to open an outdoor smokehouse and community shelter to help others.

“I lost a lot during the 10 years I was away, but I gained even more when I changed my life. God has put people in my life and it’s all so positive. I have had restoration of relationships that I never dreamed would be possible with the way I was living before. The doors that have opened up are amazing. I am looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my sisters this year.”

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!

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