Choice to Change, Inc. created a box of projects for our youth to give back to the community during this pandemic. Gregory was excited when we told him about the Community Impact in a Box event to receive community service hours towards his restitution sponsorship. Instead of receiving one box, he asked for three boxes to complete. He did AWESOME! He made cards and crafts for the hospital staff, kids with cancer and veterans. He is a talented young man and proud of his accomplishments. Keep up the good work!
Oswald spent 25 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. After being released, he was hired as a spray technician for the City of Riviera Beach Public Works Department. The pesticide and CDL classes he took while at Sago Palm Reentry Center helped him obtain his initial employment. Today, Oswald is a Reentry Case Manager for The Reentry Center - City of Riviera Beach and a Peer Mentor for The GEO Group, Inc. He recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership, graduating magna cum laude. In 2017, Oswald founded a non-profit organization where he mentors youth and young adults.
Rickema “Twin” spent 21 years in the Florida Department of Corrections. After his release, Twin cautiously enrolled in the transitional job program even though he was wary of Reentry programs in general. Six months later, Twin said “It was the best decision I could have made. In six months, I’ve had the opportunity to build, to learn skills like drywall and cabinet installation— lots of things, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.” Twin is now working full-time and has been promoted to Field Supervisor with Urban Farmers, Inc.
Darrelle spent 20 years of his life in and out of the state correctional system. He says that he was lost with no focus or goals. Darrelle came into the office and at intake said “I’m never going back.” He has held true to his word. Enrolling in the transitional job program helped him focus on the new goals he has now set. He has excelled in construction and is now a Field Supervisor for Urban Farmer’s Inc.
William was released from the Florida Department of Corrections’ Sago Palm Reentry Center in 2019. Since then, William has shared his passion for improving Reentry efforts. He co-hosted a Juneteenth event with the City of Riviera Beach Reentry Center to help returning residents register to vote and help link people to resources available in the community. He is the founder of People of Purpose, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to helping returning residents build lives of self-worth and sustainability and to close the door on recidivism. William is the newest Advisory Member on the PBC Reentry Task Force.
Willie grew up with limited resources yet had aspirations of a good life with nice things. Unfortunately, the path taken to attain these goals did not go as planned. He said ”I went to jail for over 30 years because I was in the habit of making bad decisions. Each and every time I committed a crime I thought that there would be a better outcome or better results but… every time, I was wrong.” Willie worked with his case manager to secure stable housing, food, clothing, on-the-job training and to apply for SSI/SSD to choose a healthcare and provide for his current and reoccurring health concerns. He was hired as a Production Assistant at Gulfstream Goodwill. Willie credits his brand new lifestyle to “those nice people over there at Goodwill who helped me change my life!”
When Tanner was 15 years old his dad passed away. He was hanging with a rough crowd getting into more trouble - selling drugs, doing cocaine and partying with friends. He entered Reentry in 2014 at age 16. He did not realize the help he could have gained, nor did he care or trust anyone. In just a few years he was back to his old ways. At age 19, Tanner was incarcerated in prison for Burglary and Grand Theft and serving 3 years. Tanner found his talent writing lyrics from his heart from his past, from his poor decisions. He was on National Television with Kids News featuring his song “Thank you”. Tanner’s advice is “JUST STOP. You have people around you that care about you. Embrace and use the Reentry individuals and agencies trying to help you succeed. A life of crime is not good for anyone. Be part of the solution not part of the problem."
Jacques was a participant in the Back to Board of County Commissioners A Future initiative and Gulfstream Goodwill provided case management and support services to help him during his reentry journey. He continues to be successful in school and received a 3.0 GPA. He is active on the school basketball team, plans to join track and attributes “being involved with a team” as a motivation for doing better.
Matthew took classes at night to get his Commercial Driver’s License while working full time during the day. He said “work takes up all my time” and discussed the challenges of balancing work, family and managing stress. He successfully earned his CDL and was offered a full time position shortly after. He will now be able to better support his wife and two children and spend more time with them.
After initially completing his first MRT class, Douglas J. reported, “I don’t think this stuff is for me. I don’t need MRT and if I want a job I have the streets.” Now Doug is almost halfway through MRT and despite COVID-19, Doug has started his own business of detailing cars. Doug credits his case manager and employment consultant for always “being there” when he needs them and is hopeful that he will earn enough money to expand his detailing business.
While in the Reentry Program, Erika earned her GED and with the help of her case manager, has decided to continue her education at Palm Beach State College. The Reentry case manager is working closely with Erika on navigating waters of enrollment, tuition, financial aid and balance of work/school/home.
Maurice commuted from Belle Glade to Board of County Commissioners West Palm Beach to attend MRT classes. Despite COVID-19, Maurice successfully completed MRT, with his sister’s help overcoming technology issues. Maurice reported he “feels so proud” and “can’t wait to hang my certificate up for my family to see.” Maurice is employed at the Belle Glade Goodwill Store, funded through the Innovations in Reentry Initiative grant.
Jaquez successfully graduated from high school and was accepted to Bethune Cookman University. He maintained a 3.0 or above GPA, which allowed him to play varsity basketball. He was given scholarship money to attend the university and his case manager is assisting with helping him navigate FASA and online orientation.
After successfully completing his Board of County Commissioners program with Veteran’s Affairs, Wes was hired by the VA to help others navigate their way through Reentry. Wes is working to become a community liaison between those housed at the VA and resources in the community. Wes is also working to complete MRT. Wes attempted MRT a few times before and could not get past Step 6. He is now at Step 8 and on track to complete MRT. He is also in the process of completing his second book.
Calvin lived in a “tent city” for 12 months. He takes 3 buses to get to work, gets up at 4am, maintained employment and received two promotions within 4 months. Calvin successfully completed counseling and is financially ready to move into an apartment with his spouse. He is now preparing for CDL school.
Jaden was hired as a pizza maker on Singer Island where the staff trained him on food prep, safe storage and coaching on customer service. Jaden attends high school during the day and works 5pm-11pm, 6 days a week. Since the buses don’t work after he is done with work, he walks 3 miles home each night. Case managers worked together to get Jaden a bike for his work commute.
This Reentry participant (who would like to remain anonymous) was incarcerated for nine years and reentered society in the challenging year of 2020. She was facing obstacles such as experiencing homelessness, searching for employment and the difficult adjustment of reentering society after years of incarceration. The Participant and case manager worked together as a team to identify desired goals and plan on how to reach them by developing a Personal Development Plan. She now is working at Restaurant Depot and plans on moving up in the company. With this exciting achievement, participant will begin to move on the next goal of finding safe and stable housing.
Tarina was released from prison and enrolled in the Reentry Program in 2019. Tarina was hired on the Clean Team and completed the Peer Specialist class.
Anthony was released from the Florida Board of County Commissioners Department of Corrections’ Sago Palm Reentry Center in 2020. Upon Anthony’s release, he was housed at The Lord’s Place, Mann Campus. Anthony was off and running for success. He has accomplished many things since his release, including 200 hours of community service, driver’s license reinstated, purchased a vehicle and successfully completed all of his Reentry goals. Now, he has his own apartment and is in the process of renewing his lease for another seven months.
Terrell was released from the Florida Department of Corrections’ Sago Palm Reentry Center in 2019. Terrell started out residing at The Lord’s Place, Mann Campus. He successfully completed all of his Reentry goals and moved into graduate housing. Terrell also received his CDL while at Sago and completed the second half when released. When Terrell received his CDL, he started driving for an ice cream company. Because of COVID, he was furloughed. In July 2020, Terrell started driving for Quality Trucking Company and moved to Georgia where he is doing very well.
Alonzo was released from prison in 2019. Board of County Commissioners When Alonzo was released he was timid and a bit unsure of what life had to offer him. He was housed temporarily at a local transition house until he was placed at The Lord’s Place, Mann Campus. Since moving into the Mann Campus, Alonzo has enrolled into the GED Class, worked for the Clean Team, worked for the Culinary Arts program and has recently completed the Peer Specialist course. Alonzo is currently submitting his paperwork to become a Certified Peer Specialist with the State of Florida. Alonzo frequently attends AA/NA meetings and has been a role model for the men and women at the Mann Campus.
Angela was enrolled into the Reentry Program in 2019. Since enrolling into the program, Angela was housed at Halle Place and was doing well. However, she ran into some stumbling blocks. Angela quickly bounced back and moved to another facility. Angela is currently working at Super Cuts. She has been there for about 10 months. Angela has also completed her first year of college where she is going to get her degree in Social Work. Her case manager would refer to her as a “fighter.” Although she hit a bump in the road, she did not lose hope, she kept pushing.