Celebrating a full year of employment, Brian looks to the future

Oct 05, 2022   |  By Emily Montgomery

This past July, around the time many Americans were celebrating the anniversary of the nation’s founding, Ohio resident Brian celebrated a personal milestone: 365 days of employment post-incarceration.

Brian’s job keeps the rest of us safe. He works in the Vehicle Quality Department at a Honda plant outside Columbus, where he evaluates new cars before awarding them their final stamp of approval, ensuring the vehicles will pass all state and federal safety regulations and will be to customers’ highest satisfaction.

Brian is quick to point out that he didn’t get here without support. After he left prison in 2021, his parole officer recommended getting involved with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a national nonprofit that provides employment services to people returning home from prison or jail. Brian got involved with CEO soon after and got a job at a Donatos pizza dough factory. He says that his on-site supervisor at Donatos, Devin Williamson, was an especially generous manager and “went above and beyond the call of duty to mentor his team.”

Brian then worked at Pactiv Evergreen for ten months before securing his current position with Honda through a staffing agency called Adecco.

“When I came out of prison, I’d done 22 years straight. I was totally isolated from society, and I didn’t have a work history for 22 years. That’s a long time,” Brian said. “CEO helped me get back on my feet. They helped me be employable.”

For Brian, this 365-day work anniversary means he’s fully re-integrated into society. “It’s something few people with the same experience as me accomplish,” Brian said. “And—with the help of CEO, Adecco, and Pactiv Evergreen—I've done it.”

Candace James, the site director for the CEO Columbus site, said that despite having multiple challenges to overcome, Brian never lost focus.

“During our Preparing for Change discussion, Brian identified the short-term goal of becoming Job Start Ready. In less than a month of working on crew, he crushed that goal and then found employment,” Candace said. “Not only did Brian secure the job on his own, but he remained in constant communication with the CEO team who continued to encourage him.”

“Brian trusted CEO to be a partner in his success and we're honored to celebrate this milestone with him,” Candace added.

Having a steady job with paid vacation also meant that Brian, who is a member of the Lakota branch of the Sioux people, could take the time to return to South Dakota this past summer to visit family for the first time since he was incarcerated.

“I’ve been gone for a long time, and I’ve lost a lot of relatives along the way,” he said. He was able to visit the graves of those who had died and do a sweat lodge ceremony. “It was a good visit,” he said, “though it was sad to leave.”

Even with all he has accomplished, Brian is not done fulfilling his goals. He is interested in pursuing higher education at some point, and while he’s not sure what he wants to study, he’s considering a major in psychology–perhaps to become a counselor.

“I’d like to help other people like me,” he said.