With reentry support like SNAP benefits, Rubin builds a “solid foundation”
Rubin moved to Albany, NY, from Brooklyn with his mother in 1985. He says he loves the seasons of upstate New York and he is grateful to be close to other family members, such as nieces and nephews he has watched grow up.
"It's a beautiful feeling," he said. "I love my people."
He's also thankful for the opportunities in the city--especially the possibilities someone can pursue as they go through their different seasons in life.
After almost eight years in prison, Rubin was released in 2019. As he says, trying to establish oneself after returning home without support is like "building on quicksand."
But Rubin did find support. First, he joined the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), which provided him with transitional employment and a daily paycheck. Second, he enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This food stipend helped him support himself while he worked toward stability in other parts of his life.
"Getting financial assistance," Rubin said, "is like building on a solid foundation."
Rubin explained that his SNAP benefits were a crucial part of that foundation. "I was able to provide my own food without becoming a burden, and it helped give me some balance," he said.
After his transitional employment with CEO, Rubin was hired by Specialty Box and Packaging, a packaging supply store in Albany. When they had less work due to the pandemic, they continued paying Rubin to volunteer in the community, such as serving at a food pantry and a shelter. He then began volunteering at CEO, working as their front desk clerk. Through this position, he helps with paperwork, clerical work, and cleaning and speaks to new participants about his experiences during their orientation.
Rubin's volunteer sponsorship ended a couple of months ago, so he is currently receiving unemployment benefits. However, he recently earned his driver's license, which helps qualify him for a job at CEO. He's hoping to be hired for a supervisory role when a position opens.
Another future career he's interested in is working as a counselor for underprivileged youth. As for following one's dreams, Rubin recognizes that "it's never too late."
"I came a long way, and I see a clear future," he added.
He also wants others to know how helpful CEO has been during his re-entry period and beyond.
"CEO is a ground-breaking program," he said. "It has slowed down recidivism tremendously. CEO is a beautiful place to start your life back."
He added that he's grateful to be able to help others through his work with CEO, and hopes to keep giving back.