Family Focus: ‘Cities full of second chances:’ Nonprofit working to get ex-cons into the workforce

A Jacksonville-based nonprofit is working to get people with criminal records back on the job. Their mission is to “build cities full of second chances” for people who have taken the right steps to make changes in their life, and want to work.

Right now, the national unemployment rate is at 6%, but for convicted felons it’s even harder to be considered because of their history.

Operation New Hope provides support, life and job skills training for people with criminal histories.

Korey Ledoux works at Bozard Ford in St. Augustine, an Action News Jax Family Focus Partner.

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There, he works as a Facilities Technician. He works Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the first thing he does every morning: clean the floors.

“I spent quite a few hours on them daily to make them as shiny and clean as you see,” Ledoux said.

He’s very proud of the work he does at Ford, mostly because this isn’t just the typical nine-to-five.

“I’m 36 years old and I’ve messed up for a long time,” Ledoux said. “Since I got released, I have accomplished more in 10 months than I have in 10 years.”

Ledoux is a recovering addict and a former felon.

“And, now that I’ve been able to have a second chance, I’m trying to make the best of it,” Ledoux said.

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He went through Operation New Hope’s “Ready for Release” and “Ready for Work” programs. Their candidates, including Ledoux, go through a vetting process. Down the road, those accepted are placed in employment that offers a sustainable quality of life.

“It’s very difficult hiring good employees,” Jeff King, VP and General Manager of Bozard Ford in St. Augustine, said. “We found that some of the Operation New Hope people are some of the best employees we find.”

For Ledoux, he said he wakes up every day excited to go to work.

“They say the skies the limit, so I’m gonna take it to outer space,” Ledoux said.

Any employers interested in partnering with Operation New Hope can reach out through this link.

Click here to see some of the employers involved.

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