Program seeks employers to help ex-offenders find careers

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ELM CITY — One year ago, the Family Resource Center of South Atlantic was awarded a grant to reduce prison recidivism by helping ex-offenders find careers that led to sustainable wages through its New Start initiative.

Cedric Chambers was released from prison less than a year ago. He says the lack of positive role models and job skills contributed to his incarceration. That all changed when he met Gary Knight.

Knight owns a truck repair shop at 4716 U.S. 301 N., Elm City. James Johnson, Family Resource Center case manager, and Carolyn Perry, employment specialist met Knight and explained the program to him.

“You mean I would be like a mentor?” Knight responded.

Knight agreed to teach Chambers several transferrable skills including welding and soldering. The New Start program will pay Chambers’ wages for 90 days while he receives on-the-job training.

“He works hard, shows up on time and (is) easy to get along with. He’s like a second son,” Knight said.

The New Start program is inviting employers to provide opportunities like this to ex-offenders throughout Wilson, Edgecombe and Vance counties. For more information, call the Family Resource Center in Raleigh at 919-834-9300, ext. 213.