The Cindy Martin Nominees:
Mr. Kenneth Jackson enrolled in HRCAP’s VA CARES Program on Sept. 25, 2019 after being referred for services. He is originally from California and did not know what was available to him. He informed staff that he needed employment and housing assistance. He is also a veteran and was referred to HRCAP’s SSVF Program (Veterans Services Program) for additional services. Staff was able to connect with one of our landlords, Michelle Handy, then the VA CARES staff and SSVF staff collaborate on getting Mr. Jackson housed. Through wraparound services, VA CARES identified a landlord that had available housing, and because Mr. Jackson qualified for HRCAP’s SSVF program, he was able to secure a deposit and 1st months’ rent.
At the time that he was being housed, VA CARES staff was able to connect him with a job interview with Zaxby’s Restaurant as a dishwasher. Although Mr. Jackson knew that he had more skills and qualifications to do other work, he went to the interview and was hired on the spot as a parttime dishwasher.
He stayed in contact with our office on his days off to keep us updated on his progress, then the pandemic hit which jeopardized his employment and affected his ability to come in to our office on a regular basis. However, he was able to continue to work as much as he was allowed, so things got tight for a while, but the silver lining is that as the city began to slowly open back up, he started coming back into our office to talk and share his progress. The best news is he was now promoted to Assistance Manager at Zaxby’s and he is doing well. Whenever there are available positions, he does not hesitate to let us know so that we can let other participants know about those positions.
Mr. Jackson is completing his classes with probation and is expected to complete them by the end of the 2020. Although he is anticipating going back to California because that is where his support system is, he states that VA CARES has been a blessing for him. In return, staff feels that he has been a blessing to VA CARES because he is so computer savvy, he has been able to assist other participants on the computer.
Mr. Jackson came into the program not knowing much about VA CARES. He received assistance with housing and employment. Mr. Jackson was grateful for the services, the hand up, that he received that he extended his hand to reach back to help others in the program. He did this by assisting other VA CARES participants on how to use computers. Also when he was promoted to a supervisory position where he could make recommendation to hire, he ensured that the VA CARES staff knew so that they could let other participants looking for employment know of available jobs.
Mr. Jackson is an example of what the VA CARES program is about.
James Phillippi in November 2018, New River Community Action, VA CARES program was approached by District 28 Probation Officer Vanessa Duncan regarding an offender who would be released and would have no where to go. James Philippi had been in Bland Correctional for 4 years on a drug charge and was getting ready to come home only to find out that his mother had passed away, he had nowhere to go and had nothing but the clothes on his back.
With the assistance of the To Our House shelter, staff was able to secure Mr. Philippi a safe place to stay upon his release. Shannon began working daily with Mr. Philippi and was able to provide him with clothing, assisted him with his Department of Social Service applications and transportation to New River Valley Community Services. Mr. Philippi never missed a beat and was goal oriented from the moment he was released. As soon as he was ready to start job searching, he began working with the employment specialist. Nikki was able to get James a resume, job interview training and connected with Due South BBQ where he soon started working in the kitchen only one month after being released.
Almost 2 years later, James is still working for Due South BBQ. James graduated the program in November 2019 but as part of his participation in the Virginia CARES program, staff has continued to monitor his progress. He is talked about very highly by his supervisor and constantly goes above and beyond at work. Soon after beginning work, Mr. Philippi began renting his own residence and has been there ever since. When staff checks in on James he is always smiling, proud of himself and thankful for the assistance he received.
The Virginia CARES relationship with Dist. 28 Probation office, along with many other community partnerships make success stories like James’ possible. We will continue to monitor James’ success and work with our community partners to see many more success stories like his in the future.
Brian King was released from prison on February 11, 2019. Mr. King was incarcerated most of the time between 2010- 2018. Mr. King met with Curtis Artis (Employment Specialist) and Stephanie Callands (Case Manager) on February 20, 2019 and enrolled in Virginia Cares. Mr. King expressed to Mr. Artis that he wanted to rebuild the relationship with his son and obtain full-time employment. Two weeks after enrolling in the program Mr. King’s seventeen years old son was murdered to senseless gang violence. He contacted Mr. Artis immediately to let him know of the murder and that he needed some time to get himself together. Mr. King contacted Mr. Artis about a week after the funeral to let him know he was ready to pick up where he left off in the program and obtain employment. Mr. Artis begin working with Mr. King to find employment and he was hired full-time on March 25, 2019 at Norag Technology. Mr. King walked ten miles to work one way for two months without letting anyone know or anyone noticing that he was walking to work. One morning the business owner noticed that Mr. King was coming to work an hour earlier than needed. He then asked Mr. King why he was getting to work so early and he told him he was walking. Mr. King informed the owner that he was walking, and he wanted to be sure he was getting there on time. Once the owner found this out, he offered to buy Mr. King a moped. Mr. King agreed to accept the moped and have money withdrawn from his paycheck bi-weekly until the moped was paid off. Mr. King has now paid for the moped and he is in the process of paying off his fines so he will be able to obtain his driver’s license. Mr. King has now been promoted to lead person on the job and doing very well!
Became a client in early December 2017. He heard about Virginia Cares while incarcerated at Dillwyn Correctional Center. Within a week of his release, he enrolled with the Cares Program. On Galen’s first attempt, he applied at a local grocery store and secured employment. He has been working full time at this location for the last seven months and has acquired two pay raises. He was able to save money and buy a used vehicle. He volunteers at the Lighthouse Community Center which helps pick up food. Galen volunteers in other areas at the Lighthouse including the food bank and helping with transportation for returning citizens and others who don’t have vehicles. Galen lives independently. His long-term goal for employment is to secure a job within the Railroad transportation industry. Galen credits the CARES resources for helping him transition back in society successfully.
Prior to release, Virginia CARES staff received an email from Linda Jilk, GED instructor at Montgomery County Jail letting them know that Billy was scheduled to be released, would be homeless and would benefit from case management services. Linda had worked with Billy through the Montgomery County Jail GED program and had been impressed with Billy’s work ethic and attitude throughout the program and wanted to see him succeed upon his release.
After spending 2 years incarcerated, Billy was released. He was not willing to go back to West Virginia where he was from because, by his own admission, he would be set up for failure had he returned. Billy struggles with alcoholism and knew that he needed to change his environment.
Once released, Billy entered the men’s homeless shelter To Our House. Virginia CARES staff first met Billy in February 2018 and was immediately impressed with his willingness to open and share some of the obstacles he was currently facing. Billy was anxious and nervous about starting over in a relatively new place. He had no family support locally and was afraid of what the future may hold.
Billy immediately started working with VA CARES employment specialist. He completed the interview skills workshop as well as the resume building workshop. Billy set out to find full-time employment immediately upon completion. Our employment specialist, Nikki, began working with Billy to search for jobs where he could put his mechanical skills to use. Thankfully, she had already built a strong relationship with Bills Used Auto Parts and was able to get Billy an interview. Billy started working for Bills Used Auto Parts in March 2018 and is currently still employed.
The To Our House men’s shelter runs from October through March. Billy maintained his stay at the shelter through the rest of season however was in danger of being displaced again once To Our House ended. Thankfully the New River Valley Reentry Council in collaboration with New River Community Action/VA CARES program had received grant funding to assist homeless male returning citizens with housing needs. VA CARES staff was able to utilize these funds to temporarily house Billy in a local hotel until permanent housing was secured. Billy has since established permanent housing since May 2018.
In a matter of 5 short months, Billy has built a strong foundation for himself. He continues to work hard and make plans for his future. Currently Billy is working 60+ hours per week and has been able to maintain his sobriety and build a life for himself without fear of incarceration. With continued motivation and a positive attitude, we expect Billy to do great things in the future!
We met Mr. Henry Estes in December, 2017. He was just coming home after being incarcerated for 16 yrs. in the Virginia Department of Corrections. He went to prison at the age of 21 after getting caught up with whom and what he thought was cool. He is now 37 yrs. old. Mr. Estes was one of the fortunate ones; he had a home to come to, he had a support system and he knew what direction to go in to get his life back on track.
When he first called us to set up an appointment, he informed staff that he lived in Chesapeake with his mother. We were a little concerned that he would not be able to get over here to do the intake, volunteer work or groups. Mr. Estes informed us that he was in need of employment and that it did not matter where we were located, he did not have a problem coming to us. When Mr. Estes walked into the office, he was dressed as if he were coming to an interview. We completed his intake and started working on getting him employment. Mr. Estes started coming over to the office on regular bases, and every time he came to the office, he was dressed as if he were coming to do an interview. Mr. Estes followed every suggestion that was given to him, he followed every job lead. He did not question, fuss or argue about not working in a place, no matter how low the salary may have been.
We worked to get him in the shipyard in Norfolk, but our contact had moved on to another company. We ended up getting Mr. Estes employment at Damco, a warehouse located in Chesapeake. He was so excited about getting that job; he didn’t care about how much work it was or how hard the work was. The job turned out to be a bit overwhelming for him, but he informed staff that he would not quit until he found another position. About a month after starting at Damco, he called staff to inform us that he had found another job. Mr. Estes is now employed with MASTEC/Direct T.V. He installs satellite TV. He has full benefits with this position and a comfortable salary.
One of the things that we did not have to work on was getting his court cost and fines paid off, because Mr. Estes had taken care of all of that before he was released from DOC.
There was nothing that was asked of Mr. Estes that he would not do. Doing work around the office, assisting in moving someone if they needed it. Whatever he could do to help you or anyone for that matter, he did. It is so funny, when asked about how he knew about VA CARES, he stated, “They have stuff posted up all over the dorms about the program. “ He stated that everybody knew who we were.
Mr. Estes does not have any children at this time, and he is single. He spends the majority of his time after work in the gym. He loves to go to One Life Fitness after work. He makes sure that we always know what is going with him.
As I mentioned earlier, Mr. Estes is one of the fortunate ones. His mother Mrs. Ruth Estes is his strongest supporter. When he was having trouble with applying for employment at home, his mother was there to walk him thru. I have never seen such a beautiful, warm smile on a woman’s face as I see on Mrs. Estes face when she is with her son. She is so proud of him, and happy to have him home after being gone for so many years. Mr. Estes stated that when he first came home, his mother would walk pass him and just touch his face. He is one of two children; he informed us that his sister passed away while he was incarcerated. This really brought him much closer to his mother and made him more determined to do the right thing with his life. He was more determined to not leave his mother alone.
Is 32 year old “former” Marine who currently resides in Fredericksburg, Va. During the past decade; He has come face to face with many challenges that most won’t face during their entire lifetime. Thankfully, God in His infinite wisdom and grace, has walked beside him step by step, each step of the way, leading him to people whom He would use to express His kindness toward him. Virginia Cares has been a great conduit of God’s goodness in his life. Corey was a volunteer during his transition back as a returned citizen. Virginia Cares provided housing and a stable environment that allowed him to complete college and earn a bachelor’s of Theology. He will forever be indebted to all involved in the transformation of a life filled with tragedy into a life filled with hope and triumph.
He came to the program unemployed, no license and living with his parents. Since enrollment in VA CARES program is has not only obtained employment with Olive Garden he has jump to one of the top spots in the kitchen and trains other new employees. He has worked with our Home owners program and got himself in good credit standing and now is a home owner. He also applied and interview with for VA CARES program (we could not get green light from probation for clearance at that time) He also works with a local nonresidential substance abuse program to help other returning citizens become successful. He has actively attending resource fairs with Department of Corrections to encourage others to succeed as he has done.
He has always had a positive attitude and is a really inspiring individual to be around.
I am writing on behalf of Wali McFarlane. Mr. McFarlane was released from incarceration in 2017 and then he stayed in a halfway house for 90 days. He then enrolled in our Virginia Cares Program. The program provided him job skill training in the class room, job search opportunities, independent living and much more. I was initially impressed with Mr. McFarlane’s enthusiasm, communication skills and professional humble demeanor. He was always upbeat with a positive attitude.
He obtained employment in October 2017 with Shelia’s Restaurant as a dishwasher and food runner, where the owner was so impressed with him that he offered him partial ownership in the restaurant. He continued to work hard, his attendance was excellent as he never missed a day of work and was always on time. In June of 2018 he was offered full-time employment with (TAP) as a Floor Tech. Mr. McFarlane is now living in his own apartment and is saving money to purchase his first car. My congratulations to him for Following His Dream!!!
Darren enrolled in the Covington VA/CARES program on January 25th of 2017. I had already heard about him because he had been in the VA/CARES program once before. He was a very talented individual. But, it seems that Darren had some run-ins with the police and old charges as far back as 1994. Darren was charged with vehicular hit and run. The story is told that Darren was having a party and had a cookout for all the people in his neighborhood. When it had gotten late Darren and his lady was ready to turn in for the night when an individual refused to leave and proceeded to follow Darren into the house. The guy was told to leave because they were going to go get ready for bed. After the individual refused to leave, a fight broke out and Darren seemed to have gotten the worst of the ordeal, the attacking individual jump in his car and speed away. He drove so fast that he wrecks his automobile. Once Darren came to his senses, he ran out the house and drove after the guy. After being attacked in his own home and running on adrenaline, Darren actually ran his car into the wrecked attacker’s crashed vehicle. Needless to say when the police officer reached the scene he arrested Darren for running into fleeing attacker’s car and not the guy for the assault and battery on a now very badly bruised (from the fight) and confused Darren.
Darren has been very active since getting released. When he came to see me all he needed help with was a phone to contact potential customers. It seems that it was true what they said about him. He is a self-taught carpenter, plumber, electrician and residential renovator. He is also a motorcycle mechanic by trade. But, when he could not find work in that field, he put his building skills to work to pay the bills.
He has actually hired my grandson to help tear off and replace a roof. I was so impressed with some tiled bathrooms that he had done, that I contracted him to redo my daughter’s bathroom. He regularly contacts me and asks me to send him workers to help with jobs that he has contracted.
I am submitting him as a success story because he paid his debt to society. He got his contractor’s License, business insurance and is now employing other ex-offenders. Also he is enrolled in welding program supplied by a local business in Buena Vista, VA to get his welding certification. He continues to do things to help him become more successful in life. Darren Scruggs wanted me to use his full name because he feels like it will be good advertising.
Chauvin Bailey has been a client of Virginia Cares since November 12, 2015. Mr. Bailey was introduced to the program through a Job Readiness workshop held at Riverside work release facility by Virginia Cares staff Audrey Taylor and Adrian lee out of Petersburg Virginia office.
During the workshop Mr. Bailey express to staff members that he would be coming home in two weeks and had no place to live, Virginia Cares staff members worked diligently to find Mr. Bailey a place to live once he was released from incarceration, because of the contacts staff have made with landlords private and professional, Virginia Cares staff was able to find Mr. Bailey a room to live in once he was released. Mr. Bailey was able to live there for as long as he chose, Virginia Cares continued to follow Mr. Bailey offering him support and any other resources that he would need to become a productive citizen.
Mr. Bailey took advantage of all job Readiness workshops, Support and peer groups determined that he would do better for himself and his community. Mr. Bailey is a full time Amazonian working for Amazon in Dinwiddie Va. He is still a client of Virginia Cares who has now become more independent and continues to strive for excellence.
Mr. Bailey in less than ninety days of being enrolled in the program has obtain his first apartment since being released from incarceration, Virginia Cares was able to help out with the deposit for this apartment, also Virginia Cares reached out to other resources that are available and willing to help Returning Citizens, and he was able to get funding for furniture and money to rent a vehicle to pick up furniture. Mr. Bailey’s fresh new start. Mr. Bailey continues to come to job readiness workshops as well as support group meetings, he has proven to be a very determined hard working young man who wants to take full advantage of his resources. Mr. Bailey has become a perfect example of what can happen if a returning citizen is ready and willing to make change by using their resources and enrolling in our program Virginia Cares.
The staff here at the Petersburg Virginia office are extremely proud to have such a success story such as Mr. Bailey’s it has been an honor to watch someone grow and strive for excellence knowing that your hard work has paid off.
Markus has been in the Cares program since 12/29/2015. He was released from prison less than a year ago. He ended up in the Bristol area and was unfamiliar with the area, employers and resources. When he first arrived, Markus basically had nothing. I helped him with food and clothing and arranged living arraignments with the Salvation Army. We are in the process of trying to acquire his driver’s license back now. During this time I was able to get Markus some bus tokens to be able to get around town and pursue job leads. Markus struggled the first few weeks, but maintained a positive and persistent approach. I conducted several job readiness classes with Markus and helped with his resume. During this time, I referred Markus to local bakery and was able to assist in setting up an interview. Markus landed the job and has been maintaining his employment. He is saving his money and is dedicated to finding an apartment for himself.
Marcus and I have contacted other agencies in regards to trying to assist him financially in this quest. I feel Markus Champs is a great example of what the Cares program and a willing client can accomplish. I look forward to helping Markus achieve his goals. He deserves all the credit in the world. I am just happy to play a small role in this success story.
Prior to Holland’s release, I received an email from Emma Eaton who a Community Reentry Specialist with the Department of Corrections letting me know that Holland was scheduled to be released on 9-29-15 and would benefit from case management services immediately upon his release. Emma had known Holland for over 10 years and had first met Holland while serving as a Counselor at a prison. Emma was always impressed with Holland’s work ethics and positive attitude while incarcerated and wanted to see Holland succeed upon release.
After spending 12 years incarcerated, Holland was released to Montgomery County Virginia after being told he was not able to return to his home state of West Virginia, and he was forced to start his life without the anticipated family support he was counting on.
Once released, he was placed by Radford Probation and Parole in the boarding house in Christiansburg and given instructions to enroll in VA Cares to receive case management services. I first met Holland on October 5, 2015 and was immediately impressed with his willingness to open up and share some of the obstacles he was currently facing. Holland was anxious and nervous about how much things had changed in the 12 years he was gone. He had no family support locally and was afraid of what the future may hold.
Part of the stipulations of payment of rent for the boarding house included 20 hours of community service per month. Based on Holland’s job skills, staff decided that he would be a great addition to the office and Holland started volunteering immediately. Holland painted, cleaned and assisted with other maintenance needs at the Montgomery County office. During his time at the office, he worked closely with the VA Cares staff to make plans for long term needs such as housing and employment. Due to Holland’s excellent work skills, staff made a referral to the Goodwill program in hopes that they would be able to offer a paid internship work experience for Holland to get him started in the workforce. Holland started working at New River Community Action through our partnership with the Goodwill Workforce Innovation and opportunity Act of 1998. This program paid Holland a total of 150 hours to sharpen his work skills so that he would become more employable. Holland did a wonderful job at the Montgomery office and even traveled to the main office in Radford to help out when needed. This internship also allowed Holland to take the money he had earned along with financial assistance from VA Cares and MCEAP and secure his own apartment.
Upon completion of the internship, Holland set out to find full-time employment. Our employment specialist, Nikki, began working with Holland to search for jobs he may be qualified for. She had heard that Bills Used Auto Parts in Christiansburg was in need of help and quickly took Holland to apply. Once Holland’s application was submitted, he was contacted immediately for an interview. Holland started working for Bills Used Auto Parts on January 14, 2016 and is currently still employed at this time.
In a matter of 5 short months, Holland was able to build a strong foundation for himself. He continues to work hard and make plans for his future. At this time, Holland has made plans to pay his fines in full or make payment plans to each county in which he owes money. He has been in contact with WVA to take care of any outstanding debts he may have. He is currently studying to take his DMV knowledge exam and road test to obtain his drivers license. With continued motivation and a positive attitude we expect Holland to do great things in the future!