Volunteering to Give Hope: Meet Ethridge

Volunteering to Give Hope: Meet Ethridge


Throughout the pandemic, The Fortune Society’s volunteers have been integral to supporting our Employment Services program as it continues remotely. Through mock interviews, now conducted virtually, volunteers help participants build confidence for real-world interviews and go on to gain meaningful employment.

One such volunteer is Ethridge, who recently celebrated her fourth anniversary working with Fortune.  Ethridge first learned about Fortune through her church community, and came with a background in the mental health field. She decided to volunteer out of a desire to give hope and restoration to people coming home from incarceration.

“Sometimes when I interview [participants], I'm blown away, especially when they tell me they have an education behind a prison wall, that they have a degree or they have some sort of skills,” she said.

Two to three times a week, Ethridge conducts mock interviews, helping participants realize their potential as future employees and pinpoint their skills and professional experiences—which they sometimes don’t realize they have.  

“I always tell them that whatever you did behind the prison wall is an experience, is a job, is a skill. Even if you pick paper up, newspaper, the trash, because it helps you with a porter resume. Even if you worked in the kitchen as a helper, it helps you,” she said.

As part of Fortune’s curriculum, many mock interviews are recorded , so that participants have the opportunity to see how they present themselves and correct body language and nervousness—which can be common for people with justice involvement who may have significant gaps in their employment history.

“You guide. You correct. You encourage,” said Ethridge. “And the end result is going to be the success, where you're going to see that person transform into somebody who is going to be successful and somebody who is hungry for change.”

Outside of Fortune, Ethridge has also facilitatedclasses at Rikers Island, even referring people she worked with to Fortune’s services.She encourages others to volunteer for Fortune because it gives people hope and second chances. 

“[Fortune] is a place that I will recommend anyone to volunteer,” she said. “[Fortune is] a place where I will stay...because it is needed to [give people] hope.”

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