With multiple certifications and a construction job under his belt, Leon is achieving his dreams while doing what he loves three years into his court-ordered probation period. His path may sound like a simple success story, but he’d be the first to tell you that he didn’t reach this point easily and he didn’t do it alone.
Thanks to a new partnership between the Winnebago County Department of Corrections and Forward Service Corporation (FSC), Leon has realized that he can do great things.
Leon’s probation officer connected him with Marissa, the new FSC case manager at the Probation and Parole office in Oshkosh. When their initial conversation had nothing to do with rules, he was taken by surprise. “What do you want for you?” Leon remembers Marissa asking.
It was a daunting question. He paused for a few seconds and then told Marissa about his goals: getting a steady job and finding a comfortable home where he can spend quality time with his family.
The guidance and encouragement that Leon received from his case manager to achieve these goals was made possible by a three-year $246,830 grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership, which is supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation and other community partners.
Marissa helped Leon enroll in the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) program that helps recipients of FoodShare, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, build their job skills and find jobs. Leon pushed himself to earn his commercial driver’s license, OSHA 30 safety training and CPR certification, and more. “These classes meant the world to me,” Leon insists.
His attitude made him a perfect candidate for the Transportation Alliance for New Solutions (TrANS) program that helps people start careers in road construction. Without missing a beat, his case manager Marissa helped him apply.
Marissa helped Leon learn how to talk with employers about his past, so they considered him for jobs previously out of reach. Plus, these were jobs he wanted— not just something to get by.
Leon is now a full-time employee at the Local 8 Iron Workers Union; a job with benefits, a pension plan, and a $32 hourly wage he can see leading to the house of his dreams.
“Best thing that has happened to me. This offered me a career. I feel like I am set for life with this career,” Leon says.