The transition from incarceration to release and entering the workforce can be a stressful period. With ARIZONA@WORK’s reentry employment services, however, individuals reentering the community don’t have to make that shift alone.
DeOndre Beckon was referred to the ARIZONA@WORK Mesa Reentry program by his parole officer after serving nearly three years in prison. With the help of the reentry program, DeOndre was able to find employment within a month of his release, providing him with a real second chance to reenter the community and achieve success.
DeOndre started his journey through the intake process with his ARIZONA@WORK reentry employment counselor, Cinamon Cotter. She worked with him to identify his workforce skills and the type of employment he was interested in pursuing.
“We help them (clients) with career counseling. We can help them with immediate employment, but we also like to explore their long-term career goals, and let them know what resources are available,” Cinamon said.
Cinamon and the reentry team provide clients with employment services, including resume building, mock job interviews and job leads. They can also provide reentry clients with bus passes, and professional work attire and hygiene products at no cost.
During mock interviews, the reentry team helps clients learn how to properly discuss their justice-involved background. And the help doesn’t stop once a client finds a job.
“There is ongoing follow-up. If the job isn’t working out, they can reach out and we can explore different avenues for them. I don’t want to put them in a job that’s going to agitate them or create any more anxiety,” Cinamon said.
DeOndre hadn't been employed in a while, so Cinamon helped him build a resume that successfully displayed his past qualifications and experience, along with the experience he gained from working certain jobs in prison.
“She was amazing. She [helped me with] my resume and she shot me different job leads for companies hiring felons,” DeOndre said. “Any resource I needed, [I had], whether it be a bus pass or for when I needed to get my birth certificate. She did a lot for me. She was very resourceful.”
DeOndre landed his first job after release at a production and packaging company. He was content with the job, but he wanted to do something he enjoyed and had trained for in the past, so he applied for and obtained an administrative job that makes him happy. The job is with a large, Valley-based retailer. He now earns more than minimum wage and is getting his own apartment with support from housing assistance at DES.
“If you want to be successful, it’s got to be in you,” DeOndre said. “You got guys who come out of prison with great habits. I feel like it’s on you at the end of the day.”
Cinamon said she is proud of DeOndre, because he has these large aspirations of improving himself professionally. One of the best parts of the job for her is seeing that realization in the clients she helps.
“To see the clients believe in themselves [is satisfying]. Just by giving them the basic tools and watching them grow. They see that the tools and resources are available there to support them, and they get that job and they call me and they’re so excited. That, to me, just gives me satisfaction.”
Visit our website to learn more about DES employment services. Individuals may also sign up for a virtual appointment with an employment specialist for assistance with reentry services, SNAP E&T, and other employment resources.