Goodwill of the Greater East Bay: Bridging People to Their Purpose

“Fifteen years ago, I remember coming home from being incarcerated, without a skill or a trade,” says Jerry Jones. “A job with a career is what I want most. That represents opportunity. That’s huge for me.”

Goodwill of the Greater East Bay, and other organizations throughout Contra Costa County, provided Jerry the job training he needed in order to avoid being “caught in the revolving door of recidivism again.” He is now on a path to stability and success.

Since it was founded in 1919, Goodwill has been on a mission “to turn donations into jobs—offering a lifetime of purpose and opportunity.” According to the organization’s website, “Everyone has the opportunity to discover their full potential and purpose, empowering them to reach financial independence and become productive members of our community.”

When the “Bridges to Work” bill, called Assembly Bill 109, become state law in 2011, Goodwill of the Greater East Bay jumped at the opportunity to connect formerly incarcerated men and women living in Contra Costa County with steady employment.

Assembly Bill 109 transferred responsibility for supervising certain felony offenders and state prison parolees to county jails and probation officers. The bill provides state money to pay for vital services and supports for formerly incarcerated men and women looking to make a fresh start.

Studies have shown that formerly incarcerated men and women who receive some type of training have lower chances of recidivism, or relapse. Goodwill programs in Forklift Certification and Food Handling Certification, and other trainings, offer hope that postive change and success are possible.

“Goodwill changed my life,” says Jones, who now serves as an instructor in Goodwill’s Bridges to Work Lab. He adds that his job gives him “the chance to impact those that are returning to society just as I did years ago.”

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