"I had filled out 30 applications all around Texarkana, when I said I had been locked up it was like, 'well, we will give you a call.' It never happened." JB is the first student of the friendship center's carpentry program. He spent 18 years incarcerated. Now, it is back to reality. "My wife was working two jobs before I got this here. It is real good."
Though the school is just transitional, construction storage buildings and entry ways takes on a new meaning. The instructor also served time behind bars and is working to get back on track. "We pay those people $7 an hour and try to work them back into society," says Center Director Hillman Deaton.
Deaton also says while in the program, students are able to get food and help with their utilities and even rent if needed. They must also go through background checks and drug testing. "It is there for them if they want to put the effort into it." The program lasts for six weeks and by that time, work is usually available. "I wasn't in tune to going into this type of program but I am glad we did," Deaton says. People like JB are glad it's there as well. "I feel like they gave me the second chance. I had been all over Texarkana and nobody wanted to hire me." A valuable lesson taught with hard work and a desire to live a normal life. "You start looking back and that is when you start messing up." If you would like more information about the Re-Intergrating Offenders Carpentry Program, call 903-792-1301.