Jakelia Taylor is a 23 years old mother of 4. She is the Industrial Services Supervisor at Goodwill Industries of Michiana.

Jakelia got her start with Goodwill through a program called 2nd Chance @ Work.  This program is designed to help people with criminal backgrounds gain career skills with a goal of achieving full-time employment. In Jakelia’s words, “Had it not been for the compassion of the caseworkers and staff running this program I really don’t know where I would be in life right now.”

Through a string of events and bad decisions, Jakelia turned to a life of crime and drug abuse that led to a conviction and criminal record. As part of her conviction Jakelia found herself required to obtain employment to pay for court fees or face jail time. This is when she reached out to the 2nd Chance program. After 12 weeks in the program, she was ready for a work-place experience. This stepping stone of the program offers hands-on experience in a given field.

Jakelia was able to secure a full-time job and many other resources that aided her in her recovery. She explains the next phase of her journey:

I was released from Community Corrections for good behavior. After about 7 months of working I ran into child care problems and I was forced to stop working for about 2 months. I became very discouraged and I figured the odds were against me. I felt there was no way to get ahead in life with a criminal background. During those 2 months I reached out more than ever to different government assistance programs, again I was turned down because of my prior. I began to slip back into my old habits, doing the only thing I knew to make money. As time went on I began to just see life for what it was. I knew if I sat back and did nothing about the situation I was in, no one would help me. So again I began to ask around for help. Finally I was offered child care. I then was able to get back into the program and start where I left off.

She worked hard and was offered a position as the Industrial Services Coordinator at Goodwill Industries of Michiana. She has held this position for over a year.  Her current goals include starting school.  Jakelia sums up her story by saying, “Who would have thought me, a 22 year old ex-felon, could overcome the odds I overcame. This is really just the beginning of my story. I have not closed my book yet and I am ready for a new chapter in life and very thankful for the chapters leading up to this. I want to give Goodwill thanks for the amazing helping hand to not only me, but my family.”

For more information about the 2nd Chance @ Work Program, please click HERE.