The Greek philosopher, Aristotle once opined, “Change in all things is sweet.”
George Bolton was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He was the eldest of three siblings - two sisters and one brother. George was raised by his grandmother, who he recalls as “old school.” Although she never made it to his school functions, she made sure they had food and had a roof over their heads. Bolton noted that he didn’t have a bad childhood, that they were poor, but not impoverished. Bolton attended Southeast High School where he played football and basketball. Even though there were many positives in his life, it did not mean that he would not fall into a cycle of trouble that would plague the upcoming decades of his life.
The first time Bolton was incarcerated was at the young age of 18. In 1999, he would spend 3 years in lockdown as he struggled to be a responsible young adult in the community. Unfortunately, this first major consequence would not be the light that sparked change in Bolton’s life. He found himself in and out of prison on a variety of charges. In total, Bolton spent 14 years in State and Federal prisons.
Bolton married twice while between incarcerations. Unfortunately, during his last incarceration, his second wife passed away, along with his loving grandmother. Bolton had a daughter left without the guidance of her father, being raised by other family members until he could return home. His goal was to build a healthy future for his family. It was time to make some changes.
He knew that he had to stay home on his next release and decided to participate in the Therapeutic Community (TC) for 3 years. He also started to attend church. During COVID, many people struggled to adjust to the many changes related to isolation and navigating how to function in their communities. This especially held true for the lives of those who were incarcerated. All programs ceased and isolation became life. This would not stop Bolton. During this time, he started planning for his future and homecoming. He investigated CDL training and the steps to become certified. Six months prior to release, Bolton connected with the Reentry Coordinator with the Full Employment Council (FEC) who agreed to pay for his CDL training. Through this process, he was finally connected to Second Chance for wraparound reentry support.
In mid-September 2022, Bolton was finally able to come home to Kansas City. He immediately enrolled in Second Chance. His focus and determination were clear: he had a strong desire to be a positive role model for his 7-year-old daughter who he was finally reunited with after many years. Bolton was supported with employment right away. A strong collaborative effort between Second Chance and FEC saw the successful completion of his CDL training, transportation assistance and temporary housing close to the training facility to ensure his full success. Despite his difficult past, Bolton was fortunate to have a strong family and community support system, which he utilized fully. This is not to say that he didn’t have obstacles along the way. His first CDL job sent him to Texas for training, where he was stranded by the company with only $40 in his pocket. Thankfully, Second Chance made sure that he was supported and transported back to Kansas City safely. Bolton’s trust in a dependable and supportive program was key to not only remaining safe but also staying on track for success on Parole.
Navigating barriers like passing his background check and facing the many challenges of life outside of incarceration was difficult. However, with the assistance of Second Chance and his family, Bolton was able to obtain gainful employment. He has been driving with AWT for nearly a year and is finding stability in this newly changed life. The support and advice he received from his Resource Specialist at Second Chance has been a tremendous blessing. Bolton expressed that his emotional and mental wellbeing are in a much better place since he first began his journey with Second Chance.
Bolton is most proud of finally being on a path to success, as well as making positive choices. He was the “client highlight” in April 2023 for National Second Chance Month, and the month-long fundraising campaign for the Second Chance Program. Bolton continues to stay connected with the Second Chance program for ongoing support. He has a desire to start attending Sunday services again. All in all, Bolton conveyed that it feels good to be away from the street life, a life he does not miss.