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Instilling Change: Animashawn West

Greek philosopher Epiceteus once said “it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Although life has thrown him many different curveballs, Second Chance participant Animashawn West has dedicated himself to maintain a positive outlook on life in order to better himself and support his family. After returning to prison multiple times, Animashawn knew that he didn’t want to revert to the cycle of crime he was living in. Throughout the final portion of his incarceration, he was able to focus on the changes that he needed to make in order to be successful. When asked what motivated Animashawn to make these changes, he stated that “the first three times I went, I was still stubborn and hard headed. The last time I went, it had an adverse effect since I just had my youngest child and was raising him prior to incarceration.” In order to fully support his family, he knew that returning to his hometown was not in his best interest. With the help of his uncle, Animashawn was able to transition to the Kansas City metro area to gain access to various resources. Within three weeks of his release, Animashawn attended Second Chance Job Club and enrolled into the program. For Animashawn, obtaining employment was his biggest reentry barrier due to his background and a pending charge. Through Second Chance, he has been able to work diligently with his Resource Specialist on job readiness techniques and skills identification. It is extremely important that career interests are matched with participants' interests and skill sets in order for positive relationships to be developed in the workplace. Once employed, Second Chance was able to assist Animashawn with work clothing and gas cards. These resources helped ensure that he could succeed on the job without added barriers. Animashawn is very thankful for all that Second Chance has provided him, but he is most thankful for the constant support and positivity the staff has offered him. According to Animashawn, “when you go to someone and they give you nothing but positive feedback and energy, that goes a long way.” Animashawn is also extremely grateful for the support of his family, friends, and various Parole Officers who have been nothing but supportive. As of today, Animashawn is thriving in the Kansas City community. He recently accepted a new job with UPS and has secured independent housing. Although he has had many successes, Animashawn is most proud of his presence in his youngest son's life. Besides working and spending time with his family, Animashawn enjoys giving back to the community whenever he can. Earlier this year, Animashawn was on the client success panel at Second Chance’s quarterly Welcome Back. If he had to give a piece of advice to the reentry population, Animashawn would tell people to not give up after being told no. “Once you get the ball rolling in the right direction, it’ll just keep rolling. There’s going to be bumps in the road but you have to try and ride the bumps as best you can. The road will eventually get smooth again.” The Second Chance staff is extremely proud of Animashawn and grateful for the optimism he carries with him. Animashawn is an example of someone who has succeeded once given a second chance. We are excited to watch him grow and see what his future has to offer!

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