Goodwill Central Texas gives former inmates a second chance

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2009, David Long was arrested in the Bryan-College Station area for drug possession. He’d been arrested two times prior for similar offenses. At the time, Long says he was going through a break-up with his now-ex.

“I was in the process of losing my daughters at the time and started using drugs again, so one step led to the next and I’m kicking her door in,” Long said.

Eight years later, Long is out of prison and staying at a transitional house in Del Valle. That is where someone told him about a program through Goodwill Central Texas. The organization received a $1 million federal grant this year to start LifeLaunch for people who have been incarcerated.

“Really coaching them through that, giving them the services, whether that’s financial literacy, digital literacy, career skills, education,” explains Traci Berry, chief learning and engagement officer with Goodwill Central Texas.

David Long is working with the Goodwill of Central Texas. (KXAN Photo)

After taking some classes, Long is now interning at the Community Center five days a week. “I keep getting told I can’t be an accountant but I’m going to be an accountant. I’m signed up for school, I go this next semester,” said Long.

It’s all part of Long’s goal to secure a career and one day see his little girls, including his youngest whom he’s never met. “You’ll see an ex-felon cry for real, I’ve been looking forward to that,” explains Long.

Goodwill Central Texas tries to place people going through the LifeLaunch program in a paid internship at a local business. Once they secure a job, Goodwill will continue to follow up with participants.

All the resources through the program are free for former inmates. The federal grant covers most of the cost and Goodwill Central Texas picks up the rest. The organization is funded 60 percent through its retail store model. The rest comes from corporate and foundation grants, its recycling part of the business, and community donations.

The grant for the adults started in October. So far, three people have signed up. A program for 18 to 24-year-olds began in January. So far, 45 people have gone through the program.

If you are interested in getting involved in LifeLaunch through Goodwill Central Texas, you can visit them online or call 512-637-7580 and ask about the program.

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