ROANOKE, Va. – In about a month, the Virginia Department of Corrections will release 4,500 people across the Commonwealth for those who served time for minor offenses.
While state leaders are preparing, there is a program in the Roanoke Valley, called the Good Start Program, designed to help people re-enter society.
“Man it’s a sweet thing man, going on two years,” Kareem Farrior, an individual who graduated from the Good Start Program said.
Kareem Farrior now drives 18-wheelers for a living.
“I’m at peace, when I’m riding down that highway it’s like the most beautiful thing ever,” Farrior said.
Kareem Farrior turned his life around. He served time for drug distribution and experienced homelessness after being released.
“Coming from that to having your own place and not having to worry about how to pay your bills, you can’t really beat that.”
Farrior credits assistance from Goodwill with their Good Start Program.
“Man, I’m so glad we did that, that was the best thing ever.”
Vice President of Mission Services with Goodwill Stephanie Hoer said the Good Start Program helps people like Farrior.
“Goodwill has been delivering on re-entry services for about 8-9 years now,”
The Good Start Program started a little over three years ago.
People in the program learn job readiness skills like resume writing and mock interviews.
They also get occupational training like welding or help to earn their CDL.
“Our vision here at Goodwill is to eliminate poverty, the way we do that is by connecting people to well-paying jobs, the way you do that is preparing them through job readiness,” Hoer said.
Hoer said training people who served time to get high-paying jobs helps reduce the rate of them becoming repeat offenders.
In the last three years, Goodwill says they helped more than 200 people, and only about 2% recidivate.
The state is expected to release 4,500 people in phases starting July 1.
Goodwill said this program can help prevent them from going back to jail.
“We feel it’s the most vital resource we can provide, everyone wants to care for themselves and their families,” Hoer said.