Paying forward his opportunities, Ronnie now helps others succeed

Nov 14, 2022   |  By Emily Montgomery

Ronnie knows something about hard work. Growing up on a small farm in Yuba County, Calif., Ronnie and his four younger siblings helped care for the family’s chickens and other animals, including milking the cow every morning and evening.

“We never went to the store to buy lunch meat,” Ronnie says. “We always had our harvest.”

Ronnie says his childhood responsibilities shaped his character. “That is what nurtured my work ethic and outlook on life,” he says. “Get up at four and go to bed around nine.”

He continues that tradition of hard work now with his position as a per diem supervisor for the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), working out of their Sacramento office.

Ronnie began as a participant at CEO in March of this year, soon after being released from prison. He worked on a crew doing road maintenance for CalTrans until, in May, one of his supervisors pulled him aside and encouraged him to take a supervisory position with CEO. Now he leads people who are in the same situation he was in just a few months ago.

“I tell them that I started right there where you’re sitting, in the back of the van,” Ronnie says. “I was out there picking trash with you guys. You can do the same thing I’ve done; you’ve just got to put the effort in.”

Ronnie loves his job and can see himself staying in the position for a long time. “I feel like I have a purpose here by helping other people,” he says.

“It’s not just the job that interests me. It’s more the participants–seeing people succeed.”

He recently had a new participant approach him, concerned because he had never worked before. Ronnie says he shared his experience with the young man and explained how he got where he is now. Recently, the man texted him with great news: he had just secured a permanent job.

“I’ve been provided with so many opportunities,” Ronnie says. “I have many years of wisdom and experience, and I can relate to the participants. I can tell them where I went wrong, and I can bring up their esteem and their work ethic. I just love it.”

Ronnie is especially thankful for the mentorship of his CEO supervisors and coworkers.

“Anytime I have a question I can ask anyone and they give me great advice,” he says.

He also appreciates the unique opportunities that have come with his new position. He recently attended a company dinner at a Sacramento restaurant and met some of his district supervisors.

“It was just so awesome,” he says. “I was out of my comfort zone. I could see how my whole life has changed for the good.”

Ronnie feels that through his position with CEO, he is paying forward the opportunities he has received. “It’s me making my amends back to the community and society,” he says.