Next Step participant Charles Hopkins is a July 2020 graduate of our STRIVE job readiness training. A returning citizen after 47 years of incarceration, Mr. Hopkins was immediately challenged to find employment and housing upon his release. With the help of his parole officer he found transitional housing, but just as importantly, Sophia Nalty, his Caseworker, stayed in touch with him to see how he was doing as well as inviting him to take the STRIVE training. From Ms. Nalty, he learned that the training wouldn’t be “a cakewalk” but he knew he needed some basic soft skills to sustain employment “on the outside.” So, he made an important decision: he accepted the coaching and enrolled in the training! Critical to that decision were the words of Ms. Nalty: “Mr. Hopkins, this is a partnership, not just a program!” He was one of only a few graduates; he credits his success to the fact that he was “all in,” viewing the training as a never-ending “life resource, not just an opportunity.”
As a result, Mr. Hopkins then enrolled in the Georgetown University Pivot Program for returning citizens that would also “teach him how to fish” as a coach himself – another step on his OWN path, to empower other returning citizens as he had been empowered. At the same time, he landed a job working for Nehemiah House where he lives.
“If you accept the coaching and take STRIVE training, you’ll get what you need to accomplish your goals . . . the participants are incredibly diverse, male and female, single moms and older returning citizens like me . . .”
We can’t guarantee that every participant will experience the immediate success of Mr. Hopkins, but we can prepare participants to be ready in every way for the opportunities that open up, not just for employment, but for life.
Given all that our participants are up against, I’m asking you to please consider what you can do NOW as part of our Empower Our Neighbors in Need (ENN) campaign.
If you are inspired by Mr. Hopkins’ story please consider a gift to ensure that EVERY participant is given an opportunity to strive toward their goals and that we can expand our reach to still more of our neighbors in need throughout Greater Washington.