Education and a Drive to Succeed Move Vince Ahead
“Pioneer provided me with a training and education platform, along with the stability of employment, to give meaning to my life so I can share it with others who are now struggling.”
Vince’s recovery journey was long and filled with relapses that led him to participate in nine different treatment programs, serve five years in prison and multiple stints in jail, fulfill four years on parole, lose his jobs and experience homelessness before coming to Pioneer.
While serving in the military his drinking became a big problem. After going AWOL while stationed in Germany, he committed a robbery and landed in prison. He made a decision to study in prison and got his barber’s license. After his release, he worked for over 15 years as a barber and stylist while pursuing his associate and bachelor’s degree in human services. However, his drinking habit was still haunting him and when it transitioned to drugs he went downhill fast. After committing himself to his ninth treatment program he was determined to build a support system, engage in outpatient services and focus on his career. He heard about Pioneer and enrolled in the Roadmap to Success job-readiness training program.
“I had experienced solid employment in my past, but the Roadmap training program brought me up to speed and helped me to answer questions about my criminal record, learn how to search for jobs online, write a good resume and practice my interviewing skills. The case management and counseling services I received as a participant in the training program also gave me the confidence I needed to pursue a career. In class, it was so satisfying to work with my classmates on their resumes and employment searches as many had never had stable employment. I realized I had a knack for working with people.”
After graduation from Roadmap, Vince pursued an entry-level job at Pioneer to get his foot in the door and worked in cargo liners in the aerospace manufacturing division. After a few months he jumped at the opening for a case management position at the Mark Cooper House working with Veterans where he could use his human services degree. A year later, Vince transferred into working as an employee assistance coordinator helping Pioneer employees transition from jail and prison back into the workforce.
A criminal record can stand in the way of securing basic needs like housing and employment, along with destroying a person’s self-esteem. Vince was now in a position to help others navigate the barriers that block an individual’s chance of successful reentry after incarceration. He sharpened his people skills and gained some good corporate and human resources experience in the position.
Vince decided to pursue his career in working with individuals struggling with substance use disorders. His college degree in human services had a specialization in chemical dependency so he applied for his Chemical Dependency Professional Trainee (CDPT) certification and is now working at Pioneer Counseling–Rainier Clinic providing chemical dependency assessments, counseling and case management to clients at the clinic under the supervision of an approved supervisor.
“I started my life over at least four times. It was a turning point to finally establish an inner connection with my spiritual side as that gave me a resiliency to get back up, forgive myself and work towards a successful future. It feels good to be in a position now to assist other people struggling with substance abuse. I’ve been there and feel I have a gift to be able to relate with others who are trying to stay clean and sober – I can provide guidance and a little light to their journey.”
Recently, Vince was accepted into the University of Washington’s School of Social Work graduate school program to receive his Master of Social Work. He is taking advantage of Pioneer’s employee tuition assistance program while he is working full-time at Rainier Clinic. His resiliency and drive to use his skills to help other people grows by the day and we are fortunate to have him on our team!