Voices of Hope – Matthew J.

“I’m from a good family with parents who love me and provided well for me. I was a good kid playing high school football and planning to play in college like my brothers. But, I was too concerned with trying to make everyone happy and didn’t know how to say no, so I got involved with some bad friends. When I was 17 years-old, I was giving a ride to some of those bad friends and ended up being the getaway driver. I was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

“But I refused to let that be the future for me. While in prison, I continued to have the support of my family and stayed on my best behavior. I practiced meditation daily and did all the work and study needed to have my case reconsidered. Because of changes to the juvenile laws, I was able to meet with the State Attorney after serving 6 years. I told her I was serious and had big plans for my life. She saw something in me, and I was fortunate enough to get a new deal that would allow for my release after completing 10 years, followed by 3 years probation. When I was 27 years old, I was finally released and came straight to Operation New Hope. I’m so glad I did.

“I really liked learning what to do and what not to do to succeed at work and life while in the Ready4Work program. The Career Development Instructor was a really good role model and the financial planning helped me make plans to succeed. I found a job at U-Haul making $15 an hour, and I am also working as a manager at Taco Bell. I’ve built up my credit and saved up enough money now to buy my first car – a Camaro – I love it! By this time next year, I should be super straight. I am working hard, doing what’s right, staying fit, and keeping my mind right. My long-term goal is to be an entrepreneur and build something bigger.

“If I had a chance to give advice to myself at 17, I would say “Whatever you do, keep your eyes on the prize and don’t get involved with the wrong crowd.’

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!

Share this post