#MissionMonday: Leon is back on his feet with help from RISE, Bowling Green Resource Center

When Leon was incarcerated, he lost everything he owned. He was accepted into a sober living home while he was still an inmate, but a requirement was that he had to provide for himself.

That led Leon to participating in our Reintegrating Individuals Successfully Every Day (RISE) program, also while incarcerated in Bowling Green.

“The RISE program did me some justice,” he said. “That gave me a start to where I needed to find a job. (Goodwill Resource Center Manager) Traci was pretty instrumental with that.”

When Leon was released in September 2021, he was provided with the $300 stipend and $75 Walmart gift card given to graduates of the RISE program. That allowed him to buy clothes and other essentials.

“I will never forget the day he was released,” Traci said. “I told him to get anything he needed, including food, and when we went to check out, he barely spent over $100. He was humble and said he wanted to work immediately to have his own money.”

Also through RISE’s digital skills training, Leon was able to earn a laptop, which allowed him to search for jobs and improve his digital literacy. He utilized it to help secure an interview and employment less than two weeks after his release. He began a higher-paying job less than a month later working with a local manufacturer and is currently earning more than $17 per hour.

While searching for jobs, Leon said he didn’t have a phone. But Traci helped him get in touch with hiring managers she already knew very well.

“I don’t think I could be exactly where I am right now had it not been for Goodwill and Traci,” Leon said.

Traci and the Bowling Green Resource Center also helped Leon regain his driver’s license and insurance for his vehicle. They also helped him install an ignition interlock device, which prevents a user from starting a vehicle until a breath alcohol test is taken. Just last week, Leon finished his probation and parole period.

“I just can’t explain how proud and happy I am for him,” Traci said. “His story is definitely full of hope, termination and the willingness to better himself.”

If you or someone you know is in need of supportive services provided through RISE, visit the Bowling Green Resource Center at 1806 US-31W.