After exiting jail, Tony was in rehabilitation at St. Anne’s in Louisville, where he heard a presentation about Goodwill. Then, prior to being released, he attended a career night at our Opportunity Center on Broadway in Louisville.
“That’s how I found out there was more to Goodwill than the stores,” Tony said. “I needed a change. The whole time I was in jail, I thought, ‘When I get out, I need to get to Goodwill.’”
Tony also knew he needed to leave Louisville. The Oxford House suggested he relocate to Lexington, and once he arrived, he went to the nearest Goodwill store, where the staff directed him to the Lexington Opportunity Center.
“I had sweatpants, a sweatshirt and a pair of tennis shoes,” Tony said. “I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know the area. I didn’t know the bus schedules. I knew nothing.”
When he visited the Opportunity Center, he attended orientation that same day and enrolled in our Reintegrating Individuals Successfully Every Day (RISE) program.
“I had nothing, but they gave me a bus pass to get back and forth to my RISE classes. They gave me clothes vouchers. They fed me. That was my only food for a week. I took the crackers home,” Tony said. “Meanwhile, my rent was still $150. They paid me $300 to go to RISE, because they know participants have bills to maintain while they take the two-week course. Those things kept me going.”
Tony and his career coach, Ashtyn, went through his job history. Tony had a lot of experience in the restaurant and entertainment industry, but he didn’t want to go back to a lifestyle that would require him to be around alcohol.
“My resume was great, but I couldn’t use it,” he explained. “I needed a lateral move that could scale into something else.”
There was a truck driver position open for Goodwill in Lexington. Tony applied and was hired.
“The deciding factor was that Goodwill did so much for me, I wanted to give something back, at least for a while,” Tony said. “The Goodwill programs are just amazing. They paid for me to get my ID. They helped me set up a bank account with direct deposit. I got my teeth fixed – Goodwill paid for that. My commute to and from work was two hours, and they got me a bike through the Last Mile to Work program. Now, that’s how I get my groceries. I ride it to Kroger. There is no way I could be where I am now – three months out of jail – if it weren’t for Goodwill. I would have had to resort back to a quick restaurant job to pay bills, which would put me at high risk for relapsing.”
In August, Tony is planning to enroll in our Work and Learn program to pursue a path as a peer support specialist.
“I want to do social work,” Tony said. “Where my felony is not going to automatically disqualify me. Instead, it will help me serve others. While I was in jail for three years, I completed nine programs that were substance-abuse related.”
Tony was elected by The Oxford House to attend Oxford World in Washington DC later this summer to represent his sober living home. We are so proud of Tony and all his success!