We recently received this letter from a client in our Reentry Employment Program at PA CareerLink of Lancaster County:
Finding employment in today's economic climate is a daunting task for a "normal" person with "normal" challenges. The difficulties in securing an interview, let alone a job offer, are exponentially increased for an ex-offender who was incarcerated for five years in a state correctional institution. I felt as though I had a Scarlet Letter attached to my back.
Having never been a fan of "government" or "government-related" programs, I was not initially enthusiastic about the prospects of the Re-entry Program at the Lancaster County Career Link. T.A.B.E. test? Aced that in prison. Complete a video course about showing up to work on time, properly groomed and attired? Common sense. How are those things going to assist me in my job search? I must humbly admit I was wrong . . .
Throughout the intake, screening, and job search processes, I was guided by highly capable and dedicated professionals who truly care about their clients' successes. To them it's not about the numbers; it's about the individuals. Without exception, the staff of the Re-Entry program, Job Search Center, and Ready2Work lab treat all clients with dignity and respect. Aided by their encouraging words, kind smiles, and occasional gentle cajoling, I gradually emerged back into society. There were many days when the only confirmation of my humanity and value came from them.
Todd Blankenstein approached me one morning with the opportunity to meet with the owner of a growing manufacturing facility. Todd knew I was not particularly enthused about an entry-level production position, but he believed it could be a great opportunity. I agreed, toured the factory, and met with the owner. He called me that evening and offered me a "yet-to-be-determined" position. Within a few weeks the job developed into a newly-created "Quality Director" position that perfectly utilizes my skills. I am valued as an employee and as a person, and my criminal background has never been held against me.
Without the services at Career Link I would not have had access to the job skills training necessary to gain employment. The guidance provided by the Re-Entry staff is unparalleled and creates a vital safety net for ex-offenders who want to make a fresh start as productive members of society. We expend considerable resources on conviction and incarceration but fail to provide the post-incarceration support required to break the cycle. The Re-Entry program at the Lancaster Country Career Link proves public resources can be used effectively. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the difference the program has made in my life and the life of my family.