Getting clean and staying clean is not an easy road, literally or figuratively; but Reuben Gandara would say that is the one piece of advice he believes was most important for him after his release from incarceration. Prior to his incarceration Reuben struggled with synthetic marijuana abuse. However, during his incarceration Reuben made great strides to get his life on a better track.
Reuben was incarcerated for nearly three and a half years. He did plenty of work during that time. His first year at Booneville he worked as a tutor helping other inmates get their GEDs. The seven months that followed, he worked in the restorative justice program, which included things like sewing projects and helping in the garden. He transferred to Cameron and started their electrical wiring program for his remaining ten months of incarceration. Prior to his release, Reuben discovered Second Chance through a packet given to him on resources in the Kansas City area.
Once Reuben joined the Second Chance program, he worked on practicing for interviews and boosting his confidence to be relatable and to consider how others perceive him in hiring situations. He stated his resource specialist provided him with job leads and they talked about spiritual wellness. Reuben spoke to his resource specialist about not really having any hobbies, and his resource specialist encouraged him to try something new that he always wanted to do. Reuben eventually enrolled in a martial arts class. Reuben related he not only enjoys it, but he’s also had some positive health effects from it as well, feeling overall healthier. Reuben stated the most helpful part of the program was being able to find a job and obtain employment when he really needed it. It allowed him to stay focused and to keep moving forward and up.
Successfully completing parole was difficult. Reuben admitted that it was a test of his fortitude to complete all the state requirements. Reuben is most proud of being able to make it through his parole with no problems and delays. He stayed clean and did well throughout the entirety of his parole. He successfully completed parole April 1, 2021.
Reuben shared that he has struggled with mental health and is now seeing someone, taking another step towards a healthy lifestyle. Reuben’s advice to others would be never give up despite feeling down or depressed. That mindset helped him stay focused on his goals in life, and for Reuben those goals are furthering his education and continuing to move forward with his career as a certified electrician.