Checking in with HandUp Participants

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A little over two months ago, we launched into our HandUp prison-reentry program serving those reentering society after incarceration. Today, we checked in with participants, David Chambliss and Rechail Johnson. 

When asked how things have progressed over the program so far, David responds positively, “A lot of job opportunities! He [Rechail] got offered a full-time job, I got offered a full-time job,” referring to one of the local employers whose contracts participants have been working under. Rechail echoes his feelings, “They like our work ethic and job performance.”

David expresses excitement about this particular opportunity, noting that the consistency of work in jobs like these allows he and others to plan for their expenses each month rather than working jobs all over the state. 

When asking about the classes they’ve been taking for Job Readiness, David comments that, “They’ve renewed me on some stuff… They remind me of what I need to do, how to act with others, getting closer to God…how to be positive. You’ve got to stop being negative and start being positive. Stop trying to find the wrong in everything and just do the right.”

Next week, the guys move on from Job Readiness and onto Financial Education, a set of classes aimed at helping those who earn gainful employment to steward their renewed resources responsibly and according to God’s will. 

When asked about what they’re excited about, Rechail says, “I’m pretty good with Math, I took Business Math in school so I’m looking forward to this!”

He remarks that, at the end of the program, he sees, “Light. It’s light.” 

David chimes in and says, “I actually have been able to get a vehicle so my goal has changed. Everything has been working in my favor so I can change that goal [of getting a vehicle] to a higher goal of getting a place to live or something.” 

“You’re doing the right thing, you’re paying attention and a lot of people help you out.” remarks David in a celebratory tone. Rechail and David have both found lots of help from other organizations in the area as well and feel strongly that they will pass these resources on to the next group of people who come through the HandUp program in 2023. 

When asked what they would tell someone interested in the program Rechail says firmly, “You have to be willing.” David adds that, with all the resources they’re receiving as a part of the program, they are getting so much more than just $10 per hour, which will soon increase to $13. “As far as any questions you have or anything you need help with, they’re there.” says David.” “You have to be willing to put in, to receive.” Says Rechail. “No matter what you need, there’s a resource out there.”

When asked about what they want to tell folks about the program, Rechail says emphatically, “It’s working. The program is working.” “No matter how far you fall, there’s opportunity out there. You just have to seek it and apply yourself” adds David. 

We’re well on our way to graduation and are overjoyed at the work David and Rechail have put into their experience! 

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