I’ve been in every dark prison in the Northwest. I’ve been beat up, I’ve done everything you can do in the outlaw life. When you weigh 250 pounds and are covered with tattoos from the neck down – I have to keep in mind, my size and my stature. But just because a person has criminal background doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a bad person. People change. I’m proof of that.

Without a living wage we’re just going to go back because we’re going to do whatever it takes to survive out here. I got 22 felon convictions, most of them are violent. From childhood my family was involved in drugs in one form or another and I used to go out and steal stuff with my father and my mother as a kid. And then when I got older that progressed. I went to the penitentiary for the first time when I was 19. I went a total of 4 times in 2 different states and ended up doing a total of just over 16 years.

I tell people I’m supervising my story and what’s happened to me, that they can do it as well. Because I feel that we need more people like that who are coming out and wanting to change and be good members of society. I probably look at these people a little harder because I want them to succeed. I want them out of the system and I want them to be able to support their families. So I probably push those people a little bit harder. I may even give them a little extra help. They do touch me a little bit more.

When I got out of prison I couldn’t leave our house for 2 weeks. The fear is big. The fear of failure is the biggest part of any man or woman coming out. And when you come out and you’ve done so long that you can’t go to the store, or you can’t go out to dinner, it’s a hard thing to do and realize that you have to do it. So you kind of have to buck up. There’s nobody there. The parole officer doesn’t care. The courts don’t care. Nobody cares but your support group so you just kind of have to say I’m going to do this and I don’t care what anybody thinks.

After 2 weeks I’d go out a little bit by myself. It took me another 3 or 4 days before I could get to a store. After that it took a little bit before I could talk with people. I was out for a month and a half before I got my driver’s license. Once I got my license, I felt that freedom - that I could do it - the next day it was full steam ahead and don’t stop.

Since I’ve been out of prison, I’ve paid off all of my fines. I’ve done everything I can to set me, myself and my family up so we can succeed. We own a home now. We have 2 cars. All the debt that goes with the American society. The two dogs, the cat. And we’ve done all that since I was released. By having two incomes and opportunities I’ve been afforded here.

My wife describes it as a fairy tale. She’s never been in prison except the visiting room. Her whole life she just kind of stumbled through and kind of survived. Now she’s living. And we’re living. That’s what Dave’s does. And any company can do it.