When Lamar was placed on probation, he felt overwhelmed and needed lots of guidance. He was struggling, didn’t have a job, and in Lamar’s own words, “I needed to learn how to stay on the straight and narrow path.” In time, his probation officer saw potential in him. He referred Lamar to the Delaware Center for Justice’s Community Reentry Services Program, in hopes that he would find rewarding employment to place him on that path. It was then that Lamar met Jessica Alicea, one of DCJ’s case managers.
When Lamar started the program, he was eager to find any job he could. “I was really aware of how competitive the job market was. It’s especially hard for me when other people have college degrees or a clean record,” Lamar said. At first, his only goal was finding a steady job. However, when Jessica mentioned the Food Bank’s Culinary Program, his mind became set on his new potential career. His mind became set on his new potential career. “It’s hard, but this program got me a job at the Food Bank.”
Jessica didn’t just get him an interview; she got him into the Food Bank’s Culinary Program, allowing him to receive training and a guarantee of a job once he graduated. Lamar told us, “Jessica went above and beyond to get me into the program. She called numerous people, she vouched for me, and she went out of her way to help me get the proper identification needed for working there.” Not only did he get into the program, but he is now currently working.
When asked about how he is doing now with his goals, Lamar smiled, “It’s great. I’m on the right track. I am working in a setting I truly enjoy and I have surrounded myself with the right people.” His case manager, Jessica Alicea, is one of those people. “She’s great. She helped me adjust my attitude positively, helped me find a job, and showed that the she really cared about me. You could tell this isn’t just a ‘9 to5’ job for her.” If it were not for her efforts, Lamar would not be at the Food Bank. He said, “I wouldn’t have developed the skills needed [to find and secure a] job I enjoy.”
Talking about his future, Lamar says, “It looks bright. I’m an optimistic person—the sky is the limit. Whether I continue working in the food industry or not, anything is possible if you put in the work.” Lamar’s hard work and dedication to his case manager, his education, and most importantly himself allowed him to set himself up for success. He also advises anyone in his former situation of hardship, “Start to associate with the right people. When you’re with people who care about you, you start to care about yourself. It’s definitely worth putting in the effort.”
Hannah Glassman was an intern with the Delaware Center for Justice’s Community Reentry Services Program. The Delaware Center for Justice works with more than 2,000 youth and adults each year, to bring positive change and growth with those at risk or those already involved in the justice system.