If you had to describe Ray Mays, you could say he is an individual that has embraced change at every corner in life. Mays’ life has not been easy; he would tell you no differently. His commitment to embracing the challenges that come with life has made him stronger and more passionate than ever.
Ray’s life has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride. Before incarceration, Ray had no plans, no goals, and little direction. This ultimately led him to getting into trouble with the law on multiple occasions. It wasn’t until his third time facing incarceration that Ray truly felt the impact of the amount of life he was about to miss out on. This led to a change in his attitude, which led to a change in his actions. While incarcerated he completed his GED, and even began tutoring fellow inmates. Additionally, he participated in a therapeutic community (TC). This TC involved anger management classes, substance misuse classes, and vocational education that allowed him to receive training in plumbing and an apprenticeship with the Department of Labor. He helped train dogs in the Puppies for Parolees program, an activity and hobby he still enjoys to this day.
After nearly a decade behind the walls, Ray was referred to the Second Chance Program by his Parole Officer. Ray thinks he may have been re-incarcerated or dead today if it wasn’t for Second Chance. Through the Second Chance program Ray found a career utilizing his prison vocational training that he is extremely proud of in Landscaping Irrigation. He prides himself on having a job that regularly makes more than people that have never been to prison. The most helpful part of the program for Ray has been learning to pace himself, to set goals, and to stay focused. As his Resource Specialist put it, “Life is like eating an elephant; you have to take one bite at a time instead of all at once.” Ray has taken this wisdom to heart and has used it as a guidepost for his life.
Ray describes that the hardest part since leaving incarceration was reconnecting with his son. The time Ray spent incarcerated was also spent missing out on vital moments in his son's life. Despite that hardship, Ray loves his son very much and continues to bond with his son daily. As of right now they are in the process of family and individual counseling. Ray is extremely proud of how far he has come and dedicates an incredible amount of time and fellowship to his church. He is focusing on family, giving back to the community, and providing hope. Ray took what life threw at him, embraced change, and never lost hope in himself.