For Joshua Young, his moment of clarity came near the end of a seven-year prison stint. “I said, ‘Joshua, what are you really going to do with your life?,’” Young recalls. “I’d disappointed myself, I’d disappointed my mother, and I knew if I kept on this road, this was going to be my life.”
After release, Young reached out to Green Opportunities in an effort to build skills and learn more about the job process. For a convicted felon, the transition was a difficult one. “I was isolated; I let pride get in my way,” Young says of his early days at GO, adding that he sometimes worried he wasn’t getting anywhere. “Now I’m learning to let pride go, because if you don’t ask, you don’t learn anything.”
Young persevered in the GO program. He learned skills that allowed him to return to school, and more importantly, he says, GO gave him a fair chance. “They’re there to help,” Young notes. “No matter your race or background, if you’re ready to change, GO is there.”
These days Young stays busy with his education, keeping a full course load each semester at A-B Tech. He recently joined the Minority Student Leadership Academy and says he’s looking forward to earning his welder’s certifications this summer. “You’ve got to have hope,” Young says. “It’s like the mustard seed: You have to water it to keep it growing. That’s what GO’s helped do for me. I know the day’s coming when I can walk across that stage and they hand me that piece of paper.”
GO also provided Young with a pillar of support on days when he doubted his progress. “The GO program inspires me, just by going there,” he says. “They remind me of what I’ve accomplished, how far I’ve come, and that allows me to go to the next step.”
Though he still has a long road ahead, Young says he sees the importance of that journey. “I take full responsibility for the things I did,” he says. “I knew right from wrong, and I chose wrong.
But now? “Now I’m choosing right,” he says. “I still straddle the fence, but I’m making the effort. That’s the difference.”