ELIZABETH, STOCK SPECIALIST/COMMUNITY OUTREACH

In and out, in and out, in and out.

I went to jail and then I'd get out and I'd start messing around and get in trouble again. I started acting out pretty young, sixth grade or so. It just kind of escalated from there. I had moments of being clean, but it was never real long periods of time. I think the longest period of time was a year.

I didn't want help. Addiction took over my soul. Everything I thought mattered, didn't -- not my family, not my kid, not my career, nothing.

It got to the point where I even began to hate my addiction. At that point, I hated everything. It was like, “What's left?” I was tired. I was just so tired. I asked to go to treatment and I sat in jail until there was a bed open. It was a rocky start but then I surrendered, got out of my own way. I had to learn how to deal with my emotions and acceptance. How to get over the anger I have and how to be honest again.

When I was re-entering the workplace, it was place after place. Either they accepted felons, but they weren't hiring anymore because they were fully staffed, or my background would come up. I had gone to college. I had experience. I had knowledge. It's that piece of paper that made it so hard. I remember not having the money to do the laundry; I was so mad.

Employment doors are huge for people. I mean, you can work on yourself, work on your relationships and make amends…you can do all the work you want. But if you can't survive, you're eventually going to do what you have to do to survive. And that takes you right back to ground zero. 

When Dave’s Killer Bread called and offered me the job, I remember I hit my knees and I started crying. I went in being the only female in the Ovens Department. It's hot and the manual labor of pushing the racks, and running the depanner and throwing the bread…it's crazy. But I loved it. A job is like the foundation, I think that's what it boils down to. Dave’s creates a foundation that I can build all this other stuff on top of. 

I went to the Second Chance Summit in Seattle this year. To see all these people come together to try to help people re-entering -- I get goosebumps thinking about it. It’s really, really important. I feel like as a society sometimes we've done more harm than good in this particular sense. But I'm hopeful because there's a chance that we can reverse the damage that we've done. I embrace hope. It's not about me, it's about everybody, you know?