One thing you notice when you’re involved with Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota is that it provides a pretty steady stream of inspiration. The 8th annual Second Chance Day on the Hill on Thursday, Jan. 29 was a perfect example.
Led by Goodwill-Easter Seals energetic Director of Community Affairs Deanna Smiley Gulliford, nearly 70 staff members, participants and volunteers headed to the state capitol to support The Minnesota Second Chance Coalition as they advocate for responsible laws that allow those who have committed crimes to “redeem themselves, fully support themselves and their families.” One of the key issues they’re working on is restoring the right to vote for the 57,000 Minnesotans who can’t because of a felony conviction–82% of whom live in the community, hold jobs and pay taxes.
The day began with a spirited rally at Christ Lutheran Church on Capitol Hill. The several hundred in attendance were treated to a fast-paced series of presenters who told their personal and emotional stories – the incredible mix of speakers included community leaders, legislators from both sides of the political aisle, and people whose lives have been impacted by the issues being discussed.
Throughout the day we heard individuals talk about how difficult it is not just to land a job, but even to find housing if you have a criminal record. One woman summed it up for us: “If I made a mistake 20 years ago, an employer shouldn’t be looking at that.” If you were at the event you’d find it hard to disagree with her.
After the rally we headed to the capitol, where we were able to meet with several legislators and staff members, which allowed us to share a personal message about voting restoration and drug sentencing reform. One of the legislators who was kind enough to talk to us was Raymond Dehn, the Representative from District 59B. Watch his video below:
Thanks to those who attended and everyone involved who made this a memorable Second Chance Day on the Hill.