Moving Beyond Past Arrests
After many years of feeling shame and embarrassment over her past arrests, Sarah landed at our Roadmap to Success job-readiness training program and learned to move beyond her past and build her life back up.
Everyone makes mistakes, but no one should have to carry them around for the rest of their lives. That was unfortunately what I did after my arrest. The combination of having low self-esteem, limited family support and getting into trouble with the law at a young age, basically buried me emotionally. I dropped out of college at 18 years old after my arrest and went to work. I went to community colleges at first and never finished my four-year degree. Later, I was faced with being a single mother and that really pushed me to my limits.
My daughter is the most precious thing in my life and I worked hard at two jobs to provide her with everything she needs. Her health, happiness, education and well-being have been my life’s priority. Now that she is graduated from high school, my hope is she will pursue a college education. As for myself, I was not focusing on my needs and when I found myself facing personal problems again I did not have the skill set to overcome the issues. We had moved to Washington and I was having difficulty finding employment and my feeling of self-worth was at rock bottom.
I was introduced to Pioneer’s Roadmap to Success job-readiness training program from the local WorkSource office. Job hunting was not easy and I needed help. I was allowing my past mistakes fill me with shame, and the barrier for me to move on and pull myself up seemed to be getting higher. In the Roadmap class, I learned how to build-up my self-esteem and believe in myself. The training program instructor, case managers and counselor that met with me regularly, pushed me to explore what “I wanted in life” and really showed me the positive thinking process and path I needed to take to get it.
The misdemeanor offenses on my record had filled me with fear when applying for jobs or for housing. When applications asked me to check the box if I had a criminal record, I would just leave as I was afraid of exposing my past. The Roadmap program helped me learn to conquer my fears and take positive action to move forward in life. With a little encouragement, I was even talked into being the class speaker at our graduation!
It was my plan to apply for an entry-level job on Pioneer Industries’ manufacturing floor – just to get a job – not because I had any past experience in manufacturing. My case manager consulted with me and advised me by saying, “You love people – why aren’t you applying for a position to work in an office assisting visitors, answering phones and working on administrative projects? That is your background!” With her belief in me, I applied for office jobs and was hired where I can utilize my past job skills.
I thank Pioneer for giving me a chance and believing in me. You taught me to believe in myself and realize that I deserved a good life. I am even thinking about finishing my bachelor’s degree. My motto is, “NO more feelings of shame or fear!”