I recently was asked to come up with a tag line for my foundation. I had to think about it a lot, what was an appropriate tag line for this mess, I mean vision that I had created? There were so many things running through my mind and I was having a hard time to deciding just what would be the most effective. Over the next few days while I was dwelling on it I was told a story about a young man I had met in early 2020 who came to me for work. At the time we were working on a very labor intensive job and it was still cold out and wasn’t a lot of fun, but then again not many of our jobs are, we do manual labor! He didn’t last much longer than a day or two but that seems to be the case with a lot of people that come into my office so I didn’t think much of it at the time. And now here we are almost a year later and he had called the guy who referred him to work with us to tell him that he can’t stop thinking about that day and the choices that he made after that day. Now he has gotten himself into some trouble that he has to deal with before he can even consider working full time again. I was thinking a lot about that story all that day and was thinking about how many times I hear similar stories and that’s when my tag line hit me! The time to change is now, there will always be an excuse for waiting but nobody knows what the future holds for them. I am constantly telling my participants of The Plan B Foundation that life is not easy, it never will be, it is hard, really hard. And it is easier on the inside, there are no bills to pay, no sick kids to deal with, no family drama, all of that is dealt with by someone else when you are in prison. When you come out, they want you to help out with everything, after all you were away because of the mistakes you had made and they supported you while you were away. It is easy to say that working full time is too hard and I will go back to what I was doing before, make some easy money and then I will work later. It generally doesn’t work that way, it is rare to find a person that stopped doing illegal things to live a better life just one day. It is generally because something else has forced them to stop, violence, addiction or jail. There will always be a reason to wait to change, waiting is easy, change is the hard part and that won’t ever be easy.
CHICAGO (CBS) -- A newly-established nonprofit is offering a second chance to ex-offenders who are looking to turn things around – sometimes even as they still struggle. One of those men is T – who wished only to be identified by that single letter out of fear for his safety. T is 23 years old and has been shot nine times. "Every day when I wake up, the first thing that crosses my heard is if I’ll make it back to go to sleep,” T said. The latest attempt on his life happened on Saturday, and the former gang member will be getting around on crutches for the next three weeks now. The most recent shooting left him with a bullet in his left leg, and an air of optimism in his heart. "I’m still here. I just know that I’m blessed,” T said. “I’ve got to do something different now." But doing something different can be difficult when you’re an ex-convict. With gun charges on his record, T was out of prison and out of work. But the Plan B Foundation seeks to offer a solution.“There’s no reason why he can’t spend the rest of his life working and having a good life like the rest of us,” said Carrie Brockie, founder of the Plan B Foundation. Brockie and her husband, George, started the nonprofit last August – using their Lombard-based construction company to offer ex-offenders a second shot. So far, they have hired and helped five former felons develop valuable construction skills – including T.T built a shelf by himself before Brockie even taught him how. "She told me not to do it, but I snuck in and did it anyway,” T said. "It takes a really strong person to rise above it and become a better person,” Brockie said. T was forced into hiding after the shooting Saturday, leaving his home and his loved ones behind – including his 4-month-old daughter.“I love them, and I don’t want to be the reason something happens to them,” T said. But now instead of grabbing a gun, T is choosing to grab a drill. He is picking Plan B and doing the right thing for his infant daughter. "I don’t want to go back that route. I just want to get away, because if I pick it up again, then I’m going back to jail,” T said. “Then my daughter will really grow up without me.”
I started this journey about a year ago and was prepared for some challenges but nothing like what I have come across in the past year. I knew that our criminal justice system was a mess and I have heard from several different politicians how we need criminal justice reform. I agree, we need something but is criminal justice reform all we need? How do you really reduce recidivism?
By Michelle Gallardo
Saturday, February 22, 2020
CHICAGO (WLS) - A Chicago-area nonprofit is helping formerly incarcerated residents find jobs in the construction industry.
Plan B Foundation hires ex-convicts and trains them to become construction workers, so that they may become a self-sufficient part of the local workforce.
This foundation was formed as a response to a need that I wasn't even aware of. I also own a construction labor employment company and earlier in 2019 I decided I wanted to hire ex felons and train them in the construction industry. My husband and I both had ex felons in our family and knew they were great workers that were trying to change their lives but were often judged by their past mistakes. We owned this labor company and it was a struggle to find good labor and the idea for hiring and training ex felons was born. s
As soon as we hired a couple of ex felons we knew that we were on the right path, however, there were so many issues that seemed to be coming up. There are many reasons that ex felons struggle with when it comes to finding and sustaining full time employment. Transportation, child care, lack of training and lack of funds to purchase necessary tools and safety equipment are just a few of the hurdles standing in their way. That is when The Plan B Foundation was born, a foundation to help with those things so that ex felons can help to contribute to society along with everyone else. We use donations from that we receive to help purchase tools, pay for training, Ventra cards, car maintenance and repairs, ride sharing if needed, child care and many other things.
One of the things that I was not aware of when I opened this non for profit, was how hard it would be to get the word out and to raise funds! This is something that every non for profit struggles with in the beginning,I just wasn't prepared for it. However, it seemed that the word about us was getting out faster than we are getting donations. So, I have started to turn people away. Often times people in the suburbs see the violence in Chicago on the news and are tired of hearing about it and turn it off. I know I did for a long time, I thought that they just got what they deserved. However, there are so many people that do not want to live that life any more and would love to contribute to society but just don't even have a clue as to wear to begin. As a society it is so beneficial to put ex felons back to work and I am not sure that people think of this.