Finding a home, finding a job, even getting the identification documents you need to transition back into society can prove to be highly difficult for an individual who is coming out of incarceration. And without help, the possibility of recidivism starts to rise.
Those being released need a “Fresh Start.”
That is exactly what Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona and its partners are providing to those being released from the Coconino County jail under a program that began about 18 months ago. The Fresh Start initiative aids former inmates with finding a job, classroom training to develop skills, even help with transportation or clothing for work.
One of Fresh Start’s biggest success stories is Alan Reed. Now an associate working in Goodwill’s outlet store on the west side of Flagstaff, he first met Goodwill representatives at a very low point in his life. He was in jail on charges related to chronic alcohol abuse, which had also caused him to sign over custody of his son to a family member.
“I guess you have to lose everything to realize you have a problem,” he recalled.
But meeting with the Fresh Start team inspired him. He participated in the 12-step “Exodus” program aiding the fight against addiction and also participated in “Dress for Business Success,” which provided him with the type of clothing needed for job interviews.
Reed impressed the Goodwill team throughout this process. Seeing his potential, he was offered a position as a sales associate.
Reed has truly lived up to Goodwill’s core values. In addition to being an exemplary employee, he has come full circle and returns to Coconino County jail often to speak to others in the Exodus program and serve as a role model of what can be accomplished after an inmate’s release.
“I now have goals and ambitions such as going back to school and giving back to my community,” he said, “things I didn’t give much thought to before meeting the Goodwill team and learning that there is a better way to live my life and that I can be successful with just a little help from others.”
Goodwill Vice President of Mission Advancement Liz McGinlay says that more than 80 people have been formally accepted into the Fresh Start program since its inception, but in their monthly meetings at the jail, they have actually reached out to almost 400 inmates.
The Fresh Start services are made possible through a partnership including Goodwill, Coconino County Detention Facility, Coconino County Comprehensive One-Stop Career Center, the Coconino County Adult Probation Department, and YOU. Every time you donate used goods to Goodwill, shop at one of our retail or outlet stores, or make a monetary donation to Goodwill, you are helping to fulfill Goodwill’s mission to empower people with power of work.
By recycling and selling used goods, Goodwill creates thousands of jobs and millions in revenues that fund job training programs that put people to work. Goodwill’s business is not only environmentally sound; it’s a sound investment in the economic health of the communities we serve throughout Northern Arizona, and around the world. FBN
By David Hirsch
For more information about the Fresh Start program, please call Goodwill at 928-526-9188 or go online at goodwillna.org.
David Hirsch is the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona.