Succeed? Him? It’s Possible, Thanks to Fortune

Monday, June 6, 2016

Imagine it. Today’s the day. You’re being released from prison. You pack up all your possessions – your accruals from all your years behind the bars. And you sit. You wait. You shake — anxiously anticipating the moment when the door to your room will open and someone will finally say, “It’s time to go.”

A guard drops you off at the local bus stop, hands you a ticket and says, “Good luck”.

It’s the first time your feet touch free ground in five years. Everything around you is different. The way people dress, the transportation system, the speed at which everyone seems to be moving. You immediately feel lost. You want to run back into your prison, where it’s safe, where it’s predictable. It’s what you know.

Now here you stand, at the bus stop, waiting to be taken home. The bus finally arrives. And you look at your reflection in the door’s window. You’re 30 years old now. You have four kids waiting for you at the other end of this ride. You have no money, no marketable skills, and no idea how to get a job. What do you do next?

Lloyd doesn’t need to imagine this impossible situation. Three years ago, it was his life.

A drug dealer since age 13, he grew up with money in his hand and power in the streets. For nearly fifteen years he was untouchable, or so he thought. In August, 2007— 24 days after the birth of his fourth child— his power was taken. He spent the next five years in prison. When he finally came home, he was utterly lost with no place to truly call “home.” His family and children resented him, his old cronies turned on him and he had absolutely no way to support himself— at least not legally. He knew he didn’t want to go back to prison, but he didn’t know anything other than hustling.

A few months later he found The Fortune Society.

Lloyd enrolled in the Employment Services program, determined to find a job and get back into his children’s lives. He immediately took advantage of every aspect of case management, career guidance, mentorship, and relationship development support he could get his hands on. He also accepted the recommendation to engage with Fortune’s Family Services programming. Initially, he was overwhelmed. The child support arrears, alone, which accrued during his incarceration, were enough to cripple his spirit.

Still, despite his desperation for quick cash, he allowed himself to hear— and heed— all of the advice being given to him. Through his Career Advisor, he enrolled in, and was accepted into, Fortune’s green training program. He gained hands-on experience in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing installation, and earned several industry-recognized certifications. His course facilitator told him he had the “goods” to succeed in this field.

Succeed? Him? Wow.

The next step, he knew, was to get real work experience – the kind you could put on a resume, with pride. His Account Manager connected him to the subsidized Transitional Work program. He was placed, part-time, at the very training facility where he had earned his construction certifications. He apprenticed for the instructors and showed an immediate interest in the environmental field.

The facility hired him on full-time as a training assistant, starting at $12 per hour. Paycheck in hand, he worked with the Family Services lawyer to set up a child support payment plan, and completed all of the family-based training that Family Services offered. His reputation with both his family and his employer began to grow strong.

Today — just three years after that day at the bus stop — Lloyd is making $35 an hour as an environmental specialist with a New York-based company. He has joint custody of his children and a stronger relationship with their mother. With the help of Fortune’s wrap-around services, Lloyd is now a positive, contributing member to society and a true role model to his four children.

He’s actually quite proud of who he’s become.

To learn more about Employment Services, contact Hubert Lila, Career Advisor, at 347-510-3686 or at hlila@fortunesociety.org.

Read the full story in our forthcoming issue of the Fortune News in next week’s Weekly.

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