“About 70 percent of convicted felons remain unemployed in their first year after serving their sentences and being released,” she said. “We’ve been able to help about 70 percent of ex-offenders who’ve used our services to find jobs, but the odds are stacked against them.”
Coleman also displayed a Department of Labor information packet ex-offenders receive as they leave the jail.
While the information may be good, she said, it presented another obstacle.
“Unfortunately the list of companies that hire ex-offenders is skewed on the page and some of the information is cut off, which is just one of many difficulties these people face trying to find work,” Coleman said
Councilwoman Sandra Vincent said she agreed that helping people with a criminal history to find gainful employment was a community issue.
“I had no idea a service like this was offered locally,” she said. “When we have programs like this that help individuals find a job and keep them off the streets, I think we need to rally together and help in whatever way we can.”
Vincent also said she agreed with Coleman that helping ex-offenders get back on their feet to become productive members of society again also helps strengthen the entire community.
“These individuals are a part of our neighborhood and our community, the place where we live, work and play,” Coleman said. “Until these people become self-sufficient, they are dependent on someone or something to take care of them and they still have responsibilities, bills, wants, desires and oftentimes families to support.”
Coleman said after the meeting she was inspired to start her training service after struggling to find a job herself after college.
“Upon graduation, I searched extensively for a job but could not find one,” she said. “I was disillusioned, discouraged, disappointed and didn’t know what to do at that point, but I soon came to realize that I could create my own career and then be able to help others in the process.”
After earning two master’s degrees in public administration and human resource management, Coleman started her business in August.
For more information, visit www.mbctraining.org.