From Ex-con forum: Successful Reintegration Story

"I did 15 years in prison and when I got out it was like being on another planet. Everything had changed so much and it was so overwhelming, I couldn't even walk into a store or just be around everyday people without panicking and sweating, words couldn't describe how I felt… I stayed at a men's shelter for 11 months and did any kind of work I could do. I got a car, got my own place and met a woman who changed my life. I'm a plumber, but I had been gone so long and so much had changed that I was scared to get back into plumbing, plus I had 20 years probation. I was blessed to be given the greatest Probation Officer in the world, who after time had faith and believed in me. Don't get me wrong, when I screwed up and/or got too cocky she let me know who was in charge and hammered me!! But I kept proving myself and she would give me a little more and a little more lead way which also built confidence in myself. That's how a P.O. should act and treat you, especially as long as I had been down. I would not have or be in the situation that I'm blessed with if it wasn't for having the Probation Officer I was given…. Thank you Kimiko..
My P.O. gave me the OK to work at a plumbing Company and I was rusty as hell and felt stupid but I stuck with it. Plumbing prices had gone up 4 to 5 times higher from when I got put in prison and it blew my mind. I made. 40 cents an hour in prison and now I was making $20 an hour and I was in heaven. I kept giving people breaks on the jobs I did, especially the elderly and it wasn't going over good with the company and we butted heads over me doing this where I finally said that I think I can do better on my own and the owner laughed and said, “ Good luck “… They just thought I was a crazy old long hair and didn't know what I was talking about…
So I talked with my P.O. and she gave me the green light to start my company. I hit the ground running. I contacted the Contracting Board , took the written part of the test and had to go before a 6 member panel and prove to them verbally and with documentation that I had turned my life around, because I was a felon. So I spoke (and I can talk) for 45 minutes and… they unanimously agreed to give me my Plumbing License…Ha!!!???????????? . Just another thing all the know- it-alls said that I wouldn't be able to get and/or do…I had built my credit up and got a $15,000 loan and started hitting up property management companies and started getting jobs and worked 12 to 14 hour days… that was 5 years ago and I haven't looked back!! I let all the companies that I work for and all my long time regular customers know that I was in prison. All the stories you heard from the guys who got out and came back saying, “nobody will hire you or you can't get a job”.. I don't believe it!!! People LOVE the underdog and come back stories, you might get a few who are ignorant, but for the most part people WANT to see you succeed and go out of their way to help you anyway they can….
I just bought my 3rd house , I have 2 guys working for me and the work just keeps coming in… i don't advertise, only the artwork on my van and business cards …word of mouth is the best. At my 5 year mark of being out I got a lawyer, petition the court to consider letting me off probation and the judge granted my motion and terminated the 15 years of probation I had left.. which rarely happens and guess who said THAT would never happen….the haters.…I was a drug addict and I was a hot mess and I wouldn't have any of this if it wasn't for my God and my Sobriety. I promised my God, myself and my daughter that I would do everything I could not to be that person that I was, if he could just help me make it out of prison alive. God kept up his end of the bargain and I have been sober since the day they put handcuffs on me on December 23rd 2000… And the woman I met… She's my best friend, my beacon of light and loves me to death and she went and married me and it will be 5 years this December of 2022 and I've never been so happy!! It's like a dream come true. I get to open my eyes every morning seeing this angel …. Thank you God!!
I was released from prison June 12th, 2015….
The reason I've written this long ass post is to try and pass on …it CAN be done!!! Don't listen to the know-it-alls that got out and kept coming back inside saying how “you can't do this, or you can't do that”.. they didn't want to put the work in!!! I did EVERYTHING they all said that I wouldn't be able to do..I didn't write all this to brag, I wrote this to let y'all know your dreams can come true after you get out no matter what you did… go for it!"