Finding Recovery, Employment, and Success Because of a Second Chance

Jul 02, 2024   |  By Ryan M. Moser

Prior to her incarceration Tiffani, 38, would work at various odd jobs in her hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but only for a short time. Because of her addiction, she would excel in a position, be promoted to a manager at places like Wendy’s, and then quit or get fired.

“It wasn’t until I was in recovery and facing my addiction that I realized how many opportunities I’d lost in the past,” Tiffani said. “Luckily I’ve been given a second chance to do things differently now.”

Tiffani’s first encounter with the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) was in 2014 while she was on probation and working for one of CEO’s transitional work crews. Although she was sentenced to prison shortly thereafter, that experience had a profound effect on her. When she was released last May, Tiffani reached out to a CEO site supervisor through LinkedIn and asked for another chance.

“I wasn’t able to take advantage of what CEO offered at first because I wasn’t sober,” Tiffani explained. “But when I came home CEO welcomed me back with open arms. I was able to get back on a transitional work crew at the Tulsa Community College, and started working with my job coach to find a quality job that could be long term.”

After receiving support in resume building and interviewing skills from her job coach, Tiffani was hired as a transportation coordinator for Justice Link, a nonprofit in Oklahoma. The full time position offered benefits and a good salary, which helped Tiffani get on her feet and focus more on her recovery.

“I had the same enthusiasm with my new company as I did with CEO, and within three months I got a promotion,” Tiffani said. “The staff at CEO taught me that my past doesn’t define me, and encouraged me to be my best.”

Tiffani continues to work with CEO as a member of the Policy Advocacy Committee, and meets with a weekly group to discuss things that impact communities who have been incarcerated. The committee is compensated for their time each week and is trained in storytelling and current policies.

“We come up with a strategy to deal with situations formerly incarcerated people face every day,” said Tiffani. “I feel like I’m helping in some positive way to change how the justice system works.”

Tiffani continues to get a monthly check from CEO as part of the work incentive program, and was also compensated for her Peer Recovery Specialist certificate from the Oklahoma Department of Health. She recently spoke at a CEO open house to tell her story and journey with the organization.

“I’m CEO’s number one fan. They help redefine your own path and achieve your dreams if you work for it,” Tiffani said. “They will support you and find different ways to get you to where you need to be, including getting you a job and then developing your skills to help you look for a career path.”

In 2023, CEO expanded services at the Tulsa site with its grand re-opening that was featured on NPR, and continues to connect thousands of people to paid employment opportunities. Learn more about the policies that help people like Tiffani get a second chance here.