Today, Jessie, a roofer, is literally on top.
Serving time for a crime is a lifetime conviction. Like a scarlet letter, you are branded a criminal for life. Yet, after you serve your time, the expectation is you will turn your life around. Society just expects the formerly incarcerated to get a job, to pay taxes, to contribute to society in a positive way. But, that criminal brand makes meeting those expectation nearly impossible. Jessie Dearing has struggled to make a successful return to society since 2014 when he was release from prison.
After almost 3 years of trying to find and keep a good job Jessie was frustrated. Jessie had made it to this point landing temporary jobs in maintenance and construction. Showing his drive to succeed he started working on his own as a handyman. Jessie borrowed tools or found creative ways to complete his handyman projects, but always delivered as promised. But, the handyman work was sporadic and not knowing where his next paycheck would come from made life too unpredictable. Jessie, who had taken full responsivity for his crime, was trying hard to meet his and societies expectations, but nobody gave him a chance.
As is often the case, Jessie was referred to Goodwill by one of our employer partners Cooper Roofing and Solar whom he had approached for work. The team at Cooper Roofing and Solar thought Jessie might be a great candidate for the Workforce and Innovation Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) On the Job Training (OJT) program. WIOA and the OJT training program help people like Jessie overcome their barriers to employment and gain valuable real-life work experience to gain long-term employment.
Jessie met with Goodwill Career Coach Bryan Fukuzawa who identified Jessie’s barriers to employment. Jessie needed work clothes, work boots, which were provided through a clothing voucher. Jessie’s transportation barrier was taken care of by a bus pass. The clothing voucher and bus pass were provided at no cost. After finding out Jessie would need to purchase almost $100 worth of tools, Bryan went above and beyond to strike up a partnership with MEADs Hardware to assist him with the cost of the tools. Jessie was now armed with work clothes, boots, and the tools he needed to be successful.
Ready and willing, Jessie returned to Cooper Roofing and Solar. This time, to work and gain the experience he needed. Jessie immediately thrived learning advanced techniques in roofing such as Single Ply, Cut Edge, Drip Edge, and many more. It became clear very quickly the roofing trade fit Jessie’s strengths. This December, Jessie completed his OJT training with Cooper Roofing and Solar and was hired permanently.