– Willie Hayes
My name is Willie Hayes and I’m so pleased to take this opportunity to express the reality of change that can occur when the resources that are available are used. After being released from prison, I was able to become a mentor for juveniles at the Community Partners In Action facility. Then I received some information about New England Tractor Trailer Training School in Bridgeport. I enrolled and received my CDL class A licenses, 4 months after enrolling. While in school I discovered that ATR will help me with my out of pocket fees of $700.00. I made contact with them and after enrollng with ATR I received monthly bus passes to commute to school as well as a check that was sent to the admissions office at NETTTS totaling $700.00 to cover my entire out of pocket fees for enrollment.
As I arrived closer to my completion date at Nettts, I became heavy with the reality of not having any income and that’s when The Step Up program was brought to my attention. I acted IMMEDIATELY to the information I was given and had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Carmen Neives, who was responsible for walking me through the process. After I fulfilled the task of providing Carmen with ALL that she needed to get me approved, I received a grant in my name worth $12,500.00 . That grant gave me success with the first company I applied and used it. Blase was the company and they gave me the chance to prove myself. I completed school by this time and was working a minimum wage job at Blase, but remained grateful for employment.
Even after receiving my Class A CDL, I was overcome with fear from seeing so many other ex-felons get rejected that I put myself on hold till I had at lest 90 days in at Blase before I even tried to apply for a driving Job. I was blessed to have good people around me that were already where I wanted to be and because of that I was able to follow up on ajob lead with the company I am now working for full time. The company I work for now is everything I could hope for in a company (driving locally) but what I need people to know is this: My desire to do something different with my life opens the door for my opportunities. It’s not who hired me or how much I make, it is about being a man with a vision for change. The job at Blase gave me an outstanding reference to my new employer and the school NETTTS was able to be vital to this company getting a reference of my accountability and integrity that I choose to be identified by and not my inmate number.
I truly discovered that when I put the right priority on Life and freedom, I’m better able to make positive decisions. Besides obtaining a successful career, I’ve gained major successes in my home, Marriage, Church, Community, and relationships with individuals that need to know. Hope doesn’t expire just because you can’t see the results IMMEDIATELY. I will end with this, “I seek to do what most aren’t willing to do now, so that I will be able to do what most can’t do later”. So in other words I do my best now and stay away from those that choose to do NOTHING about their situation and circumstance. That will better my chances of being able to do some of the things I’ve been blessed to do. Like receive a vacation and get paid for it. I just experienced this for the first time in my life last week. There are those who chose to do nothing and have no one to pay for a vacation due to them being unemployable. If you lack skills or abilities seek the outlets that may be available to help you develop them. I encourage anyone that is in a re entry situation to EXHAUST EVERY OUTLET AVAILABLE TO YOU.
In closing, I went from being in the news paper police log to being in the news paper bi weekly as one of NETTTS testimonies and what determination, faith, and desire can reward you with. Follow your dreams and see how possible it is to FULFILL every one of them. God Bless.
Rev. Jeff Grant, JD, M Div, Minister/Director
Lynn Springer, Advocate, Innocent Spouses & Children