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Former Drug Trafficker becomes a Building Maintenance Technician

Former Drug Trafficker finally fulfills potential; becomes a Building Maintenance Technician

Growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Jamaal J (name has been changed) attended Chicago Vocational High School up until he dropped out in the 11th grade because of his gang affiliation. The U.S. District Courts convicted him of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes and sentenced to 120 months in prison.  He served a total of eight years in the Federal Bureau of Prison, and was release ahead of schedule from federal custody.   During his period of incarceration, he attained his General Education Diploma (GED).

Jamaal J is a 35-year-old, single, father of three children - one son and two daughters.  Jamaal had never worked a permanent legal job before, he did not have a resume with professional experience, and he was concerned about getting a job that would provide for his family.  He was residing at the Salvation Army’s Pathway Forward Re-Entry Program before he came to the Chicago Urban League, a National Urban League affiliate, seeking vocational training and career placement assistance via the USDOL Training to Work 3 Program.  During his engagement with the Urban League, he completed the 10-day “Success Strategy” pre-employment program, and 24 plus hours of mentoring.  Once the case managers at the Chicago Urban League completed the Individual Career and Educational Plan (ICEP) with Jamaal, he wanted to acquire an industry-recognized Welding Certification in order to qualify for a meaningful position in manufacturing as a Welder.  He also obtained his Complex Welding Certification that included Scaffolding Safety Training, and 10-hours Construction Safety and Health from Kennedy-King College.  He is the only participant to complete this training and graduate with high honors from the Welding program.  

Jamaal says, “The Training to Work 3 program has provided me with skills to compete in the job market.”  Jamaal credits the program with assisting him in staying focused and providing him with a navigator to stay on course and not return to his previous life.

He has always known he would be successful since he enrolled in the program; he secured employment with Chicago Chicken and Waffle as a maintenance worker when starting in the program. Since completing his training, he became a Building Maintenance Technician and is a member of the 701 Machinist Union earning $20.11 per hour.

Jamaal was actively involved in the mentoring process by assisting and participating, providing examples on some of the topics discussed in individual and group mentoring sessions.  Additionally, he was a guest speaker for the James B. Moran Second C.H.A.N.C.E. Program of the U.S. District court for the Northern District of Illinois. He spoke very highly of the T2W3 program and the Chicago Urban League.