Voices of Hope Update – Aaron F.

In celebration of Operation New Hope’s 25th Anniversary and Second Chance Month (April), we reached out to some of our former clients to see how they are doing now. Years after returning home, they are still applying what they have learned during their time here at Operation New Hope to achieve success and build a brighter future. 

Here is Aaron’s Voices of Hope Update:

What are you up to now? Where are you working and how are you doing?
I’m doing great right now! I work for Miller Electric Company and have had this job since I graduated from Operation New Hope. Your team helped me get the job. It’s been 4 years and 3 months since I was released from prison after serving 10 years and my life is still on the right track. I’m truly grateful.”

How did incarceration and reentry change you?
I can say reentry through the program of Operational New Hope gave me the second chance that I needed to prove to myself, to my family, and to society that I can be a productive member of our society.”
Looking back, what was the hardest thing about the first year after you were released?
The hardest parts were staying positive, sticking to my goals, and staying drug free.

What have been the happiest moments since being released?
The happiest moment since being released is getting married. In addition to that, I would say finding a career at Miller Electric, gaining my family’s trust again, and just doing the things that make life great. Helping people is my main goal in life today.

What have you learned about yourself in the time since going through the Ready4Work program?
I’ve learned that I can hold down a job, because before I could never keep a job.  I would work for one or two months get a check and quit. The cycle repeated itself for my entire life, but now I am employable and able to hold down a job – not only a job but career!

What are your dreams and aspirations?
To help people who are in the same position in life that I was with drugs and in and out of prison and homelessness. I want to help people who are still struggling with these issues have a chance just like someone gave me a chance.”

What keeps you motivated?
Enjoying life the way I never enjoyed it before. My wife keeps me motivated and helps me do the things that I struggle with doing to keep me going forward.

Miller Electric Company’s Chief Strategy Officer Kerri Stewart with Aaron, a graduate of the Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work program who now works in the Pre-Fab shop at Miller

What achievements are you most proud of?
“Helping other guys with housing through Operation New Hope. It also gives me a chance to share with them my strength, experience, and HOPE that there is a better way than prison, drugs, and the streets.”

If you could change one thing about the criminal justice system, what would it be?
” I would offer more drug treatment to people while incarcerated because 85 to 90% of the crimes that are committed are drug related.” 

What does HOPE mean to you?
“Hope to me means inspiration – a desire to change and to believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to do and be successful. Hope to me is like seeing the evidence before you actually see it.”

How do you hope your story can inspire or support others?
“I have come a mighty long way and I have a story of HOPE. I’m 59 years old and spent 33 and a half years of my life in prison. I didn’t think I would ever change. I thought I would overdose or spend the rest of my life in prison but God had a better plan for my life and all I had to do was surrender my life to him so he could change me.”

Is there anything else you would like to share?
“Second chances matter! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with programs like Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work. We have a chance to lay the groundwork for a bright hope for the future.”

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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