Our Stories: James

James is a hardworking, articulate, dedicated full-time but temporary employee at the Pitt County Solid Waste & Recycling. Originally from a farm community in Jewett, Illinois, he moved to Pitt County in 2001 to be close to his sister.  He is a man of faith, has a fiancé who he met at Pitt Community College, a 6 year old little boy and another child on the way. At 39 years old, you would never know that he struggled with alcohol addiction for most of his adult life and in early 2014 he lost his license and ended up in prison for habitual DUIs.

It was in prison that he decided that he was done with alcohol.  Upon release, with new found sobriety and determination to provide for his family, he set out to find employment. There was just one problem, no one would hire him because he had a criminal background.  Many Pitt County employers will not hire a convicted felon.

He struggled to find an employer that would give him a chance and that is when he found STRIVE. After several failed attempts to land a job he said his confidence suffered.   James said, “STRIVE gave me confidence,” he went on to say that the environment was positive and provided hope and a path to employment.  STRIVE matches graduates with local employers that are willing to give people like James a second chance.

So STRIVE taught James how to navigate the application and interview process, and how to become a team player. James explained that He said, “Mrs. Jones is a tough bird, the program holds you accountable and they will fine you if you don’t do what you are supposed to do.” James graduated from the program and then enrolled briefly in the Third Street Facilities Maintenance program.  From there James was encouraged to apply for the temporary position with the county.  He has been working there ever since.  At the time of the interview, James was hoping to land a permanent position with the county.

James’ boss, John, had nothing but good things to say about James and the STRIVE program. John went on to say that it’s two-way street, employers have to be willing to give someone a chance and that person has to be willing to work hard. At the time of this interview, James had 31 months of sobriety under his belt and was hoping for a full-time position with Pitt County Solid Waste and Recycling.

When asked if he had any words for United Way donors, he said, “Thank you, I just want to say thank you. You are filling a great need and putting people on the right path.”