I grew up in a drug-infested neighborhood. I was one of the people who got involved. I was selling drugs. Marijuana and cocaine. I played a big part in tearing the neighborhood down. I went to prison a couple of different times, for about six years all together.
My mother and father are church people. But as soon as I left the house, all that church stuff went away. As soon as I walked outside, I was in a whole different world. There was a lot of crime going on.
I’m 36 now and have five kids. I’ve always been there for them financially, but I was into the streets and kept going away to jail and wasn’t able to be there for them physically. I started to see a couple of my kids going down my path, so I want to show them different—that drugs and guns and all that is not the only way.
So I got involved in JobsWork MKE. (JWM Director of Employee Development) Michael Adams’ brother, Larry Adams, he stays in my neighborhood, the neighborhood I was raised in. I’ve been seeing Mr. Larry Adams all my life. He told me about the program. And I needed to have a job to keep my parole officer off of me.
As I got more and more involved at JobsWork MKE, in learning all of these skills, I just wanted to keep going. They taught me people skills and helped me with my resume. They gave me financial goals and a financial coach. They even helped me with my license.
They connected me to a job at Blue Skies Landscaping. I started off in 2018 as a regular crew member, making $11.50 an hour. Now, I’m a crew lead and I make $21 an hour. I run the construction crew.
I love my job. The company I’m with, it’s family-based. They train me. Right now, I’m in a solar panel class to learn how to install solar panels. They had me in a small engine class, a leadership class, a bid estimating class. They put a lot into me.
It feels good knowing I’ve got support. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. If you’re willing to get better, and you’re trying, they’ll help you out.
I’m a whole better person now. I’m humble now, I’m at ease. I feel like I’m a better father.
Now I’m there for my kids—physically, mentally and financially. I show a lot of love to them now. I think I’m showing them, especially my two older boys, that you can make it and be successful out here doing positive things. They’re so used to seeing me being negative. I was always the kind of person who had to have the fly cars, dress fancy. They’re seeing me do the same thing now, but working for it, so it’s possible. You can still do it all.
I feel great about myself. I don’t have to look over my shoulder. I don’t have to worry about anyone coming into my house, looking for drugs and guns anymore. JobsWork MKE played a big part in that.
JobsWork MKE has shown me that I can be an example for my neighborhood in a positive way. I’d rather build it up than tear it down. A lot of people looked up to me in the drug game. Now they see me working, even people in the neighborhood who are still in the game, they tell me, “I’m proud of you.”
I’m proud of myself. I’ve come a long way.