By Dr. Sandra L. Winborne
We’re not looking back! We began a new endeavor in Escambia County, which assists ex-offenders. Winnie & Associates, LLC, formed an agreement with Another Chance Transitional Services (ACTS), to begin offering the Launching Opportunities in Transition (LOT) Career Workshop for Ex-Offenders. The workshop was held once a week from August 3rd to September 21, 2016, at no cost to participants. We emphasized the need for participants to look forward and not back.
Many ex-offenders who paid their dues through incarceration, restitution, and community service continue to feel the impact of society’s negative opinion and legal wrangle, five, ten, twenty-five years or lifelong. Is it possible to find employers, elected politicians with legislative support, and ultimately laws that give people another opportunity to “dream again?” Starting over is tough, especially if it’s hard to get off of go when quicksand-like obstacles as stated above interfere with the way forward. ACTS, Dream Again Center, requested Winnie & Associates, LLC, to create a career program for ex-offenders. The LOT Career Workshop for Ex-Offenders attempts to crack the code of building up people who continuously experience a chilling effect due to legal trouble from the past that chains down their future.
The LOT design assisted participants in knowing more about their abilities, talents, and gifts. Some of those same abilities which assisted them to get into trouble may be the same ones to move them positively forward in a career. Winnie & Associates, LLC, guided participants into discovering what they possess through utilizing the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI). Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard University’s John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed Multiple-Intelligences (MI). MI, goes beyond Intelligence Quotient (IQ), an evaluated score of human intelligence. MI assesses areas of strengths that individuals possess in the following areas: Musical, Linguistic, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Visual/Spatial, Logical/Mathematical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. The LOT Career Workshop for Ex-Offenders carried out an online MI assessment for participants during week five (5) of the training. Six (6) participants received their MI assessment and they know their strengths. Within the eight-weeks, at LOT we repeatedly emphasized the importance of careers over jobs, commitment to complete the workshop and required credentials (certification/licensure), for employment according to established industry standards.
Some invited guests for the final LOT Workshop session included the following community members who encouraged participants to look forward: Mr. Aaron Watson, (lawyer) at Watson Law Firm, provided words of wisdom from his personal view that propelled him to reach his level of success even though the odds were against him. Mr. Watson told the LOT participants “Get out of your comfort zone, smile, be friendly, introduce yourself to people you don’t know and make a plan to meet the people in the position to assist you.” Aaron shook every LOT participant’s hand and introduced himself and when he completed his presentation he provided each participant with his black business card.
Lt. Anita Hemphill, the officer at the Escambia County Jail, addressed the LOT participants with statements that encourage them to keep going in their push to move positively forward, she said “stand still and know God. Sometimes we are so busy we miss what God is saying to us. Let God handle things.” Her conversation sparks one participant to tell of her recent authorization to have her records expunged setting her up to start a new position in October.
We also had Mr. Elden Scott, Business Owner, QuikMow, who said, “Hope exists in the now… You can’t hope yesterday or tomorrow. Your decision to learn from the past and create a better tomorrow is grounded in the hope you find today. Hope leads to Inspiration, Inspiration to Action and Action to Success…but only you can decide if you will be successful at creating positive or negative outcomes in your life.” Scott’s message also addressed the issue of assisting convicted felons. He said, “It’s in my company’s business plan that we will hire convicted felons.” The words of encouragement given by Watson, Hemphill, and Scott, created great dialog and projections for participants’ future plans.
The motto of the LOT Career Workshop for Ex-Offenders is “Don’t Look Back!” (See Genesis 19:26) We emphasize that fact due to Lot and his family who were told to leave Sodom and Gomorrah because God was going to destroy those sinful cities. They were instructed with “Don’t Look Back! Lot’s wife looked back and she turned into a pillar of salt. These six individuals who completed the LOT Career Workshop for Ex-Offenders did not look back and they trusted the training to complete the 8-weeks. Bishop Leon Rankins, the vision given to you by God, included Winnie & Associates, LLC, to periodically assist the patrons of ACTS. Thank YOU! Let’s not look back!