I started struggling with addiction in about junior high, but I didn’t really get into too much big trouble until I was about 18 years old. That’s when I got into drug dealing and started using harder and harder drugs. I ended up in prison.

After five years I got out and tried to get my life together, working odd jobs here and there, but because I really didn’t have any set path or any structure in my life, I eventually got back into drug life and drug activity. I was arrested and charged with federal drug crimes.

I had a chance to participate in a program they call pretrial release. It’s a federal program where they release you pending your trial. It gave me the opportunity to get into clean and sober living and to find a job. But, the jobs I was working at the time, the culture there wasn’t really receptive to people with backgrounds like mine.

My roommate at the time, worked here at Dave’s Killer Bread. That’s how I first heard about Dave’s. When an opening that popped up here, I applied. I got an interview, and got the job.

Here I could see how people were excelling and that their background wasn’t holding them back; it really made me feel good. I felt accepted. Not only do you get a chance to work with your peers, you also get a chance to see how your work ethic and your motivation can help you excel in the company. Seeing people that were my boss’ boss, at the time, who also had a criminal background, it really made me feel good because they knew where I was coming from.

At the time, my pretrial officer would tell me “Man, this is a great job. This is going to play a big factor when you go to court.” After staying clean for two years and completing drug treatment, I was able to have my sentenced reduced to three years federal probation. By giving me a second chance Dave’s allowed me to stay out of prison and to continue on the path I'm on. I was able to stay clean because of the support system I had and everything I set up for myself.

Just coming here, you’re recognized for the good things you do. I’m inspired to work because I can see the fruits of my labor. We all work for money, which I understand is the main thing, but to be recognized when you’ve done a good job…you’re told multiple times, from multiple supervisors here, like, “You did a good job today,” or, “Your team did a good job today.” It means a lot.

You actually can make a living wage here. In some jobs, with the background that I have, it wasn’t really competitive, and it wasn’t really a living wage to be able to provide for my kids. Since I’ve worked here, I’ve obtained my driver’s license. I pay taxes. I have multiple vehicles.

I always remember how I felt when I was in prison. I always remember that. I keep that in my mind. I just felt alone…alone and isolated, away from my family. It’s not worth going back to the lifestyle because it’s always going to end up back at the same place, every single time. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it, man.

You’ve got to just keep pushing forward, every single day. There’s no, “this time is going to be different.” It’s always one option, back to prison.

You’ve got to keep pushing forward.