ANDRE, PRODUCTION ASSISTANT SUPERVISOR

A lot of the time growing up I was the backbone of my family, taking care of my brothers and sisters and being there for my mom. My parents did all they could to provide but money was tight. That molded me to want to do better, to be that go-getter type of person.

I loved school. I played football and got along with everyone. I worked to pay my way in junior college. I got the opportunity to play football. Then in the middle of the season I started having foot problems and had to stop playing. The weight of the world was back on my shoulders. Now what am I going to?

I decided I needed to start working, I needed to make money. I knew a bunch of people who were in gangs selling drugs. They had wads of money. Cars. Out partying and having a good time. It attracted me to it. It’s what led me to my poor decisions. I began to try to do the same thing and mimic their success.

I was very hotheaded at that time, all macho man. I ended up getting in a fight with a guy and he called the cops. They found all the drugs and money and lockbox and they took me in and booked me.

The biggest thing that scared me was not knowing what I would do to survive after I was released. I knew people with felonies. I knew how hard it was for them to get a job, to get a place to stay, to get credit cards, to buy a car. I thought that’s what the rest of my life would look like. Me being so young, I felt like I was a waste of talent.

When I got out of jail, I started looking for jobs. I would be offered a position but then they would call me a couple days later, and say, “We can’t offer you the position anymore, we don’t accept people with felonies.” That happened about four, five times in a row. That’s where it hit — it’s gonna be really hard for me to turn my life around.

So my plan was to send my resume out and in the meantime I was gonna have to resort back to selling drugs. But then my friend who was a temp at Dave’s said, “You know Dave’s Killer Bread hires felons? You know that right?”

I printed off my resume and applied. That same day they called me and said, “Can you work tonight?”

When I walked inside the bakery for the first time I saw a lot of people that were kind of like me, hard-working people. A lot of people had tattoos, as much as I do. It kind of put me at ease.

I became a department lead, and then four months after that I became a supervisor, then production assistant supervisor. Now I do interviews for people that want to come work for the bakery.

When I’m interviewing people straight off the street, I look for people who have something that drives them. From what I’ve seen, people that have something that drives them, they work a little harder, a little better.

I’ve never been able to purchase a car that I actually wanted, and I was able to do that within the last couple months. My kids have everything that they want and need. I met the person that I love and that I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with. I’ve accomplished all these things that I envisioned as a kid growing up. Without this job, I don’t know how close I would be to my goals.

I don’t know where I would be.