For 15 years, Jason described himself as a “functioning drug addict.” Able to maintain a successful career in construction, he didn’t view his addiction as a problem, until drugs made his life unmanageable.
“Eventually, I crossed a line. I couldn’t go to work without drugs, because I would be too sick,” he explained. “For years, I was using drugs for fun, but then I began taking them in order to survive.”
With drugs controlling his life, Jason began making decisions that resulted in a three-year prison sentence.
After his release, he was placed at the CTS Russell drug treatment center in Louisville, where he stayed for six months. He then relocated to a local sober living home, where remained clean for an additional eight months.
Jason regularly searched for employment opportunities, but with a felonious charge on his record, was unsuccessful in his attempts.
“I was a hopeless drug addict who detoxed on a jail floor. Everything I thought I knew was gone,” Jason said. “I was scared. I wasn’t functional. I had no confidence. I knew I needed to get a job, but I didn’t know how to ask for help.”
It seems fateful that Jason saw a flyer at his sober living home for Reentry by Design*, a Goodwill program that offers employment services to individuals transitioning from the justice system to the workforce.
Entering the program, Jason was introduced to Tom Saylor, employment specialist for Goodwill.
“When I first met Tom, I was immediately comfortable. It was the first time I had felt comfortable since remaining sober,” Jason said. “Tom was concerned for me. He was relatable; he knew why I was there and how to help.”
When Jason entered the program, he described himself as “hopeless,” and Tom added, “I’ve never seen someone’s confidence so low,” but Jason was a model participant. He was consistently prompt and a meticulous note-taker.
“When most people come into the program, there is a sense of urgency. They want to find a job,” Tom explained. “Jason’s case was a little different; because of his anxiety and lack of confidence, he knew he wasn’t ready for employment.”
Jason remained in the program for six months, working on confidence building, mock interviewing, and job searching. Before Jason completed the program, Tom set up an interview for him with Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI). Jason was immediately hired and began working that very night.
After only one month at PSSI, Jason was promoted to a training position. One year after being promoted to a trainer, Jason was promoted again to a team lead, where he trains four employees at one time. Jason was recently offered a supervisory position, but has temporarily declined until he stabilizes the current team he leads.
“Tom is the reason I have a job,” Jason said, to which Tom replied, “I may have opened the door for him, but he walked through it.”