Walter breaks the cycle and is helping others do the same

Apr 11, 2023   |  By Alex Mitchell

“I can’t keep going back to jail…I have no choice but to do something different,” Walter

Collins says when thinking about his journey through life. He speaks with a foresight that has been sharpened by past trauma. At 60 years old, Walter displays the same bravado as a city slick college graduate ready to take on the world. Growing up in New Orleans, things were not easy for Walter. He found himself hustling at a young age, which led to a vicious cycle of being in and out of prison. But after his last stint, which found him behind bars for 6 years, Walter knew he had to do something different.

Once coming home, Walter had researched organizations that could help him gain employment. This is when he came across Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), and began to feel excited and hopeful about the next phases of his life.

While working with CEO, he became a facilitator for a faith-based, 12-step program, “I loved the job. I was happy to be doing something I was good at and that was helping others,” Walter emphatically stated. He also gained a lot of skills working with an outside maintenance crew that CEO also helped him with. Walter took advantage of every opportunity, using it to build his skill sets while staying focused on doing good. CEO offered an amazing opportunity for Walter, one that would help him flourish into his next role. And that next role came around quickly.

On March 25, Walter left CEO to go work for Goodwill Industries. He took his newly minted maintenance skills that he gained while with CEO to his new job. His work ethic did not go unnoticed either. In just 90 days, Walter was promoted to the lead man for the ground crew. He was moving on up, and fast.

“I’m glad that my hard work is paying off. I will never go backwards!” Walter exclaims.

He shared his hopes to one day own a lawn care service.

For Walter, his next step is becoming his own boss. He also wants to maintain the altruistic fervor he picked up while in prison. While incarcerated, Walter spent his time helping others. Not only did he help others, but he made sure to take care of himself too. Walter completed over 60 programs while running programs that offered help to others. Most of the programs Walter participated in were drug treatment and anger management classes that he states, “helped get his mind right.”

Today, he wishes to continue to volunteer his free time as a mentor for the troubled youth. “I’m never going back to jail and I’m going to make sure these kids I work out here with are never going in,” Walter shares. More importantly, Walter wants to create opportunities for others the way opportunities were made for him when he connected with CEO.