A Home for “People Like Us”: Carlos’ Path to Success at Fortune

A Home for “People Like Us”: Carlos’ Path to Success at Fortune


“Oh, there’s this place called Fortune. It’s for people like us…,” said a friend to Carlos soon after his reentry back into the community after spending 10 years in prison.  

People like us. The stigma of incarceration can linger over individuals with justice involvement long after their sentences are completed, creating ceaseless challenges to successful reentry. Thus, in the communities they call home, supportive people and programs that see their capacity for growth can make a tremendous difference.

Carlos found that support at The Fortune Society, an organization where “people like us”—individuals impacted by the criminal justice system—comprise over half its workforce. On his first visit, Carlos saw the transformative results of those who share his story.

“The atmosphere was different [at Fortune]. Everybody was basically about their business.”

Quickly, Fortune became a central part of Carlos’ life. In their supportive Housing program, he obtained an apartment inside Castle Gardens, their mixed-use residential development. And now, his full-time job as commis chef in Fortune’s Food and Nutrition program helps him create the home of his dreams.

“I never thought I would have my own apartment in my life. I thought I was going to live with my mother forever. That's the mentality [that I had] back then. I never thought I was going to end up in a building like this. My own apartment, security, a beautiful rooftop. Come on, man. It's like, complain? Not me. Not I.”

Carlos is one of many stories of hope that are inside Fortune’s latest annual report. Read more of his inspiring testimony below, then discover other examples of what happens when dedicated individuals work together to build people, not prisons.

Carlos, Commis Chef at The Fortune Society

For my path to reentry success, housing made all the difference. After 10 years in prison, I knew that I couldn’t go back to my past environment. There were too many negative influences there. So, I decided to stay in a shelter for a while, which didn’t offer all that I needed to succeed .  

Eventually, someone told me about The Fortune Society. I thought it would be just another housing program but quickly realized that it was so much more. Through group discussions and daily interactions with fellow participants, I found a community that was serious about moving from past mistakes and not looking back.  

I began volunteering throughout the organization, collecting almost 1,00community service hours in the process. Soon, I was able to get my own apartment in Castle Gardens, Fortune’s mixed-use, residential development in West Harlem. From a rooftop garden to a computer lab, it’s great to finally live in a safe environment where everything encourages me to thrive. I’ve never been more at peace. This positivity extends to my career. I’m proud to be a commis chef within Fortune’s Food and Nutrition program.  

I love the challenges that come with my job, as well as the stability it provides. I come home, go for walks in the nearby park, and navigate my life without the worries that I used to have. It’s a great feeling. 

Article by Root Stitches LLC

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