Goodwill-Easter Seals ReEntry program helps Jason succeed

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2005 to 2010 about two-thirds (67.8%) of released state prisoners were arrested for a new crime within three years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within five years. You might not know it from talking to him now, but Jason was one of those statistics.

After going through periods of incarceration since the age of 13, Jason entered the Goodwill-Easter Seals ReEntry program. There, he met people like Workforce Development Manager Christen Munn. “We create a culture of hope,” she explains. “Participants create goals and from them we make referrals and provide services.”

That message of hope got through to Jason. “Goodwill helped me look to the future – set goals and make plans,” he told us. “I’m big on goals now.” It’s worked for him; he’s found a job he loves and is doing it well. It’s also starting to pay off for him financially. ”I’m making good money. I have benefits and a 401k plan. It’s pretty awesome” he says.

The ReEntry program at Goodwill-Easter Seals has been in place since 2007. Working closely with the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Goodwill-Easter Seals ReEntry program provides personalized, 1-on-1 support to people coming out of incarceration. It is currently being funded by several sources including a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. By the time the grant ends in July of 2016 the Rentry team will have served over 200 people.

“Our staff members are the key to the success we have. They’re experienced and knowledgeable,” Christen explained. “We work as a team to make sure our participants get the support that’s needed. We want to make sure they know they have support.”

In Jason’s case, there were two Goodwill-Easter Seals staff members he knew he could count on for support: Sarah, his ReEntry counselor, and Will, his Auto Employment Consultant.

“Even outside of class Will’s been with me 100% of the time. He would help me with my resume and send me job leads every day,” Jason told us. “Sarah helped me with pretty much anything – whenever I was struggling with something financially or emotionally, she was there.”

Jason entered Goodwill-Easter Seals’ Automotive Service Tech classes. But his training wasn’t limited to vehicles. He also learned how to impress an employer before and after he was hired.

“With the skills that Goodwill taught me I was able to excel at my interview – and my resume was amazing. It helped me get my foot in the door. And with the job retention skills I learned at Goodwill, I really excelled at my job.”

Once he was at his job, he continued to receive support from Goodwill-Easter Seals, including helping him pay for tools he needed at work. They also helped Jason reconnect with his children. He went from never being able to see them to being with them twice a month. “My family has seen the change – they’re proud of me. I’m proud of me.”

Jason’s still creating goals for the future. He hopes to become a lead in his department and eventually buy a house. He also hopes to take what he’s learned from his experiences and help others by becoming a mentor.

He’s thankful for the support he’s received from Goodwill-Easter Seals. “There’s not much that they didn’t have a hand in with my life. Financial, emotional – it was pretty outstanding.”

“I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for Goodwill.”