At 35, Andre Alston had nearly as many criminal charges as he did years on this earth. When he walked into the STRIVE program in October 2011, he wasted no time telling his CFUF case manager, LeChelle Jones, that such barriers were no match for his sheer will and passion toward achieving one goal: a new life for himself and his children.
Andre threw himself into the STRIVE curriculum, learning practical skills – like the fundamentals of computer literacy and job interviews – alongside the soft skills – like critical thinking and relationship building – necessary to remain successful on the job. Out of the more than sixty who enrolled in his STRIVE cohort, Andre was one of 34 graduates – a testament to his perseverance in this demanding program.
Andre had worked as a tow truck driver prior to his incarceration, and knew that it provided the income he needed to take care of his family. But who would hire an ex-offender to do such independent, self-directed work?
CFUF staff knew that Andre had what it takes. Through CFUF’s wide network of employer partners and long, positive track record of providing top quality candidates, John arranged for Andre to interview with NEC Towing. Eleven days after graduating STRIVE, Andre was employed – making $18.00 per hour.
To Andre, stable employment was just a means to a greater end: supporting his family. A non-custodial yet incredibly committed father 2 children, with another one on the way, LeChelle also suggested that Andre participate in CFUF’s Responsible Fatherhood program to grow his parenting and relationship skills. Andre not only completed the 6-month program, but chose to stay involved and mentor others.
Today, Andre is not only providing for his growing family, he’s taking the steps necessary to build an ever-increasing level of self-sufficiency. His stable employment has allowed him to become current on his child support payments, which he got behind on while incarcerated. He’s working with CFUF partner GO Northwest to repair his credit, and with WODA Development to become a first-time homeowner next year.
For Andre, LeChelle and CFUF were more than avenues toward employment. They were the building blocks of a better life for Andre and his family.