Larry is an easygoing guy. He’s relaxed and comfortable, talks and laughs easily, even about going to jail. Even when the worst comes to him, he says, “Chop it up and eat your loss.” He tells a straightforward story of a man who didn’t get into a lot of trouble, but wanted to make money and live his way, until his way went wrong.
Before being charged with a felony, Larry lived a normal life. He had a good job and a way to make money on the side. He wasn’t one to get into trouble, because he wasn’t one for hanging around people who got into trouble. The only problem was the trouble his side hustle, selling drugs, could get him in, but he wasn’t worried about the consequences. He saw only the good part, making money and being able to do what he wanted. He didn’t worry about the police or anyone until, at the drop of the dime, everything was gone.
Larry was charged in November of 2019 and three short months in county jail upended his life. During his court case, he was looking for a job. Covid hit while his case was still proceeding and the place where he worked closed, so he went to the temp agency for another job. It was a good job. He was excited about the work and liked the people there. When he was sentenced, he lost the job. “Losing that job, that hurt,” he said, but he wasn’t the type to let things bother him. He ate his loss and turned himself in the day he was sentenced. Being the kind of man to take things as they come, Larry served his time with his eye on his out date. Remembering that he was getting out kept him going.
Life after a felony was different, though. Previously, he had gotten good jobs through temp agencies and there had been numerous jobs to choose from. Now, he struggled to find work. “When you become a felon, it’s a stamp,” he said. “A stigma. All they see is you’re no good.”. His probation officer referred him to an organization that sees through this stigma: Second Chance.
At first, Larry was skeptical of Second Chance. He expected to be given a lousy job to get him out of the program. What he found instead was that Second Chance helped him with many things, including job leads, clothes, and gas money. Most importantly, though, the staff of the program gave him the support he needed to succeed. “If you say you want to change your life, they’re gonna be right there with you,” he said. “Even if you fall, they’re right there with you.”
It was Second Chance that taught Larry to look at the life differently. When he started, he planned to go back to selling drugs, but realized that even if he was trying not to get caught, he was still willing to put himself in a terrible situation. He couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect the consequences to be different. “The way I think is the way I act,” he said.
Larry found a new job with the help of Second Chance and June will mark his second year working there. It’s still an adjustment, sometimes, without the cashflow from his old side hustle. When money is tight, there’s temptation, but he thinks of the work he did at Second Chance. He’s motivated not to let down the people who helped him or himself, and by the simple things in life. “I’d rather money be tight than worry about the police, or if someone is going to rob me or even kill me,” he said of life now. “This is way better.”
He recommends Second Chance to everyone he can. He knows that the hardship he faced was the consequence of his decision, but he doesn’t believe that one decision should define someone, and neither does the staff of Second Chance. “There are a lot of people who made bad choices, but they are good people,” Larry said. “You can always bounce back.”