EDC Motivates Returning Citizens To Prepare For Local Workforce At Criminal Background Seminar

LARGO, MD March 21, 2017 - Today, the Prince George's County Economic Development Corporation continued its 'ReEntry Month' activities by hosting the 'Moving Forward: Overcoming a Criminal Background Seminar' at its headquarters in Largo, Maryland.  More than 100 returning citizens joined state and local reentry stakeholders to hear about the programs and resources available that can literally change their lives.  EDC President and CEO Jim Coleman and the panelists offered not only encouraging words, but practical tools that can be used to secure gainful employment.
"It ain't over!" said Coleman. "Even though you made a mistake in your past, your future is anything you dream it to be. Remember, former President Bush and his Vice-President have DUI convictions that can't be expunged. They continued on to run the country for eight-years. Don't you give up! Your destiny still awaits you."
Panelists for today's event included Tom Brown, the CEO of the Training Grounds Initiative and a minister, Constance Parker, Manager of the Maryland ReEntry Initiative and Horace Ellis who is the Co-Chair for ReEntry Roundtable for Prince George's County as well as the Co-Founder of the ReEntry Rights Voting Block. Mr. Ellis shared his moving story about how he used positivity and faith to help him achieve greatness.
"I was told that I would die in jail," said Ellis. "But I knew that my mother didn't want this for me.  My paradigm shift came when I put the words she told me into action.  I started doing everything right, even when I was tempted to do the worst things possible.  As a result of grace and mercy, I stand before you a free man.  My mission in life is to help other incarcerated brothers and sisters change their mindsets to change their circumstances.  But it had to start with me."
Walter Simmons, EDC's Director of Workforce Services emphasized the importance of motivating individuals to do what they are already capable of doing.  Through the events scheduled for "ReEntry Month', the EDC is hoping to give a second chance to returning citizens who have the desire and will for their lives to change, but have not been given the opportunity. 
"The purpose of todays 'Moving Forward: Overcoming a Criminal Background Seminar was to help people start to shift their life patterns to match their life aspirations," said Simmons.  "It was about empowerment, helping them to understand and receive the motivation to move forward, regardless of what they have been through. We also wanted to connect them to the resources that will encourage and help them move forward, and the tools, training and soft skills needed to increase their chances of securing gainful employment.  As one of our panelists said today, 'you are not what happened to you. Don't let your past dictate your future."
Constance Parker told attendees about the federal bonding program that she manages and how matching a positive outlook with practical tools has helped many returning citizen get gainful employment, and even a bond for promotion within the company. The purpose of the program is to assist individuals who have criminal backgrounds so that they can achieve their goals. Ms. Parker also explained that registered apprenticeships are also an option for returning citizen to seal the deal for long term employment.
"What Pete Goodson and the One Stop Career Center Staff have been doing to assist people with criminal backgrounds has been tremendous," said Parker. "To see so many justice involved individuals, who are motivated to make the necessary changes and get the necessary resources so that they can advance and move to the next level is absolutely marvelous.  Prince George's County is really doing it, and showing the region what is necessary to help people make significant changes in their own lives. This was one of the most wonderful events I have ever attended."
The next event on the 'ReEntry Month' calendar is the "Expunging Criminal Record Services and Training" where the EDC will partner with the Reid Temple Prison Ministry on Saturday, March 25th .  This free event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Glenn Dale Campus of Reid Temple, 11400 Glenn Dale Blvd, Glenn Dale, MD 20789.  It is open to the public and will provide an Expunging Criminal Records Clinic, Resources and Intake Services, Employers on Site, and Child Support and Housing authorities.  Local attorneys will be available for free to assist individuals in completing the expungement paperwork.
For more information on the Expunging Criminal Record Services Clinic, contact Rev. Joyce Pugh at 301-352-0320, extension 455. 
For more information on the ReEntry Month Calendar of Events, including the 2ndChance Job Fair on Friday, March 31st at EDC Headquarters, visit www.mwejobs.maryland.gov or call Skylar Wyche at 301-618-8445.