Voices of Hope – Russell Baker

“Planting potatoes on the Farm Squad was hard. Crawling on my hands and knees in the field in the bitter cold without being paid really informed my outlook on work. Once I reached a certain level of maturity, I decided it was time to change my life.”

“After 10 years in prison, I returned to my hometown of Jacksonville and took my career path seriously. I started the Ready4Work program at Operation New Hope in January 2020 and met a lot of people who really cared. I enrolled with a great cohort of clients who had a positive influence and really benefited from the connection to community resources. I enjoyed the courses on banking and credit, but perhaps the best part was the mock interviews that prepared me for the panel interview I had with Vystar landing me in the great job I have now.”

“I am so thankful to the CEO, Board, and leadership at Vystar who took a chance on me. It’s incredible and I never thought it could happen. I consider myself very fortunate and feel a responsibility to the people that come after me in the Ready4Work program and at Vystar. I want them to have the great opportunities I have had, so I work hard every day, keep a positive attitude, and remain honest. I am currently networking, building relationships throughout the company, and learning C-Sharp with the goal of eventually transferring to work as a programmer at Vystar.”

“My advice to other Ready4Work clients – be mindful of how you talk and be professional at all times. What you say matters. Communication is key. And most importantly, be honest. Being honest has benefited me far more than it has hurt me.”

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