Second Chances and Successful Futures

By Michael Wirth-Davis, Dr. PA, President & CEO

Everyone deserves the right to experience the power of work. A disability, lack of education, poverty or criminal history should not be barriers to employment. The reality is these barriers exist for many people in our community.

Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota (GESMN) opens doors that may have appeared closed to help unlock the potential in each person we serve, including people involved in the criminal justice system.

In Minnesota, 1 in 6 children has experienced the incarceration of one of their parents, and over 100,000 residents are behind bars or under criminal justice supervision.

Our reentry program connects people to critical resources — job training, housing assistance, medical services, mentoring and more — so they can be successful, contributing members of the community. Our participants have a 13% reincarceration rate, versus Minnesota’s three-year average of 35%. 

The people we serve turn second chances into successful futures. 

Sekou’s story is powerful; he’s working to publish a book and mentors others. Deneal, whose play debuts next week, was featured in the Star Tribune and is pursuing a master’s degree in theater.

February is an important month for second chances. On February 19, GESMN and sixty other organizations will join forces at the Minnesota State Capitol to lobby for policy changes: 

  • People who cannot afford to pay tickets/fines experience ballooning fees and driver’s licenses suspension, making it difficult to work. 
  • Minnesotans do not regain the right to vote after serving their prison time. Only after they've finished lengthy periods of supervision, often decades in duration, can they participate in our democracy.

People working and paying taxes in our community should be able to vote for elected officials; fees and fines should not be an added barrier to second chances becoming successful futures.

Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota connects four people to jobs every day, regardless of their criminal history, disability they face or their economic status.  We believe in second chances and relish in the success of incredibly talented, accomplished people like Sekou and Deneal. 

Join us and make your voice heard on February 19!