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Workshop Aims to Motivate Ex-Cons

HOUSTON -The new outlook for jobs is in, and it’s not good. Job seekers are getting more and more desperate, especially those trying to make the jump from prison to a payroll.

More than 100 ex-cons showed up at the Sunnyside Multi-Service Center Wednesday night looking for work. Activist Quanell X organized a workshop designed to motivate the men and women.

“We need people to give us a second chance,” Louis Johnson said. “Everyone talks about giving a second chance, but they never do.”

For 7 years, Johnson has been knocking on doors. “Piping company, McDonalds, labor pools,” he said. But he’s never been able to get past the 10 years he spent in a prison cell.

“Well I’m hoping these people will give us a job, give us somewhere to go and talk to someone, something to benefit us.”

Quanell X put together a panel of ex-cons who’ve become true success stories to speak to the men and women.

Most are entrepreneurs. They passed out business cards and encouraged the former prisoners to contact them.

“I was hearing all these stories about how because I was an ex-offender, I couldn’t get this license or that license,” Kevin Calvin told the crowd. “Well today I’m a licensed electrician in the state of Texas.”

Darrell Barnes became a life coach and wrote a book after 7 years in the penitentiary for a sexual assault he says he didn’t commit.

“If you have faith in yourself, employers can see that,” Barnes said. “They can see you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing.”

Last year’s Road to Re-Entry job fair drew thousands of ex-cons. The line wrapped around 2 corners and stretched a full city block.

Johnson was hoping for a similar event Wednesday. He said he was looking forward to speaking with a host of employers.

He gets enough lectures at home. “People fussing, ‘Try harder, try harder’,” he said. “Well I try. I can’t go and twist their arm and make them do it. Hope don’t pay bills.”

SALLY MACDONALD
Reporter
FOX26 News

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