Aug 17, 2021
Bruce was referred to Goodwill’s Offender Success (OS) program for help with work readiness and employment placement assistance. Bruce was incarcerated for a lengthy period of time and needed to adjust to his community and create a new life.
“I was incarcerated for thirty years, and had become accustomed to prison’s way of life. Upon my release, I found a new way of life adjusting to the various nuances of living out of prison. I found the Muskegon I had grown up in, to be a very different physical place. The buildings had changed, been removed and replaced, and even the streets changed. I realized that I was on a new journey to a whole new community,” Bruce said.
Working with a Goodwill career coach, Bruce completed an individual service plan defining specific steps to help him achieve the goals he set for himself. In addition to teaching Bruce how to be successful in the workplace, Goodwill assisted him on the creation of a résumé and provided coaching on interview skills, job search techniques, computer skills, and smart phone usage. Bruce worked closely with Offender Success staff to navigate the many changes in his life.
To gain some real-life paid work experience, Bruce was enrolled in Work Experience Training for four weeks in Goodwill’s Industrial Services Center where he learned various light industrial tasks such as packaging and assembly work contracted with area businesses. With the support and guidance of Goodwill staff, Bruce acclimated to the pace and demands of work.
“I had to readjust my work habits working around people who were not only new to me, but were not fellow inmates,” Bruce said. “I had to learn what it was like to work in a much more friendly work environment than what I had been accustomed to. I had to learn to function not only as a group member, but also as an individual. The entire process was a whole new journey for me. I now find I am enthusiastic about learning even more, as there is so much more out there for me to learn.”
Bruce proved to be a diligent worker and is well liked by staff and coworkers. When a position for a Goodwill industrial production worker became available, he asked to apply. His career coach assisted him in completing his application and updating his résumé. Bruce interviewed for the position and was hired in November 2020.
After Bruce’s OS program-funded housing expired he stayed at the Muskegon Rescue Mission for 90 days. Goodwill then helped Bruce locate transitional housing and navigate the lease for a room in a communal home setting until a single-unit apartment in his price range becomes available. “It’s another stepping stone to his goal of self-sufficiency,” said Program Manager Dina Butler.
“Thanks to Goodwill, I have been given a new opportunity to prove myself. Working here affords me the ability to continue to get accustomed to this adjustment and way of living. I am appreciative of the many ways the staff at Goodwill have offered various supports to me while making this adjustment in living. I know that I have acquired a definite comfort level in relating to the Goodwill community and staff, whom I can talk to about anything, and know that I’m not being judged for who I was in my past life. If a need arises about anything, I can share that with them, and even ask for their assistance if need be. I am confident that should I wish to look outside of this organization for a competitive job in the community, that staff will be happy to assist me with that journey as well. I’m glad to know this as my journey as a returning citizen continues to evolve, and the more confident I become in myself, I know that they have my best interest in mind, and that should I feel the need to grow further, we could take that journey together. I’m happy with the progress I have achieved to this point, and we will see what the future holds for me. I am delighted in the progress that I have seen in myself since my release,” Bruce said.
The Offender Success program is a state-wide strategic approach to creating safer neighborhoods and better citizens through the delivery of a seamless plan of services, programming, support, and supervision for prisoners re-entering the community. Program participants are referred by the Michigan Department of Corrections Parole Board.
The Work Experience Training program uses time-limited, wage-paying jobs that combine real work, skill development, and supportive services to transition participants rapidly and successfully into the labor market. Participants learn the customs and routines of work, establish an employment record, and generate employer references to enhance their competitiveness. Participation is through eligibility requirements determined through Offender Success, EXIT, and other programs.