“I knew that God had forgiven me, but society doesn’t forgive so easily. Other people’s judgment was a big fear, but at Rubicon, they helped me to get over that.”
Sometimes the biggest barriers to starting a new life are the ones we create for ourselves.
Since his release from prison almost three years ago, Anterious Ellis had done all the right things - parenting, anger management, and conflict resolution classes, and maintained five and a half years of sobriety. After receiving a referral to Rubicon in July of 2014, he also learned how to create a budget, access mainstream banking, create an effective resume, and how to answer any interview question. “Rubicon helped me clean up my credit so I could get a car once it crossed over the “good” line,” Anterious said. “I opened up a bank account, and helped me clear my tickets so I could get a driver’s license and insurance.”
Through his work with Rubicon Career Advisor, Michelle Stewart, Anterious realized that he wanted return to school to pursue social work or drug and alcohol counseling. In the short-term, however, he knew that he needed a job that would allow him to contribute to his family’s household budget, and go to school. With Stewart’s support and guidance, he found a first job at a local food bank. When a work-study opportunity came up at the community college where he was taking classes, however, it seemed like the perfect fit, but Anterious was plagued by the concern that he would not be successful because of his background. “I knew that God had forgiven me, but society doesn’t forgive so easily,” he said. “Other people’s judgment was a big fear, but at Rubicon, they helped me to get over that.”
Anterious pursued and got the work-study position as part of the college’s janitorial team. In addition to becoming a valued worker, he also made the Dean’s List every semester that he was enrolled. After his second semester, he was promoted from the work-study position to a hourly part-time position that paid six dollars an hour more than he had been making.
In the spring of 2016, a full-time, permanent position with benefits opened up on the janitorial team. Anterious wanted the job, but his fears about his past and the judgment of others came back to the surface. He knew that a live scan, a common way that employers do background checks, would put his past record on display. “I came to Rubicon and immediately started talking to people,” Anterious said. “I was encouraged to go for it. They made me see that if I never tried, I would never know what could happen.”
After two interviews, Anterious was offered the position, but two weeks later his supervisor approached him with bad news – something unexpected had turned up on his record. “Both my supervisor and his boss, wanted to go to bat for me,” he said. “Even when I told them I was ok with it, they were still trying to give me ideas.” Through his work at Rubicon, Anterious not only had money in the bank to weather a lapse in employment, he also had a support team. As soon as he received the news, he began working with a Rubicon staff attorney to quickly identify and correct the issue on his record.
Despite the temporary setback, Anterious continued to connect with people in his network. One of the first calls he made was to the treatment center where he had started his journey to sobriety. “We take care of our own,” was the immediate response, and he was offered a position as a weekend driver. It was a job that had previously been closed to him before Rubicon’s legal team helped him address his past fines and get his license back. Much to his surprise, his former boss from the janitorial team called to check-in, and when he learned that the issues that had come up on his background check had been cleared, he was re-hired.
Anterious’ commitment to success impressed Rubicon staff, too. When Impact Coach, Jeremy Green, found out that Anterious was looking for a job, he recommended him to become a Rubicon Ambassador at the Antioch site. The Ambassadors are the first people that potential participants meet at Rubicon. They welcome and orient newcomers to our services, as well as provide candid testimony about their own Rubicon experience. Anterious is excited about his new position, and is looking forward to helping other people start their journey. "You’re going to come in contact with a lot of people who could care less, and you can't allow that to defeat you," he said. "It makes me feel bad to have someone tell me this kind of joy isn't meant for them, because it's meant for everybody."
Although he is busy with his three jobs, Anterious is excited about what his future holds!
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“It feels great to get support from Rubicon. When I’m feeling down, getting a call from Javier, my Employment Specialist, reminds me that someone cares. That’s been keeping me up and going.”
“At Rubicon, they talk about building networks and connections all the time. Your network can help you find a job, your friends can be there to support you when you feel like you can’t go on, but the biggest gift that my sobriety and my stability have given me has been earning the trust of my wife and daughter again.”
“I never had a job before I came here. So that was a challenge for me, getting up in the morning. Sometimes I wasn’t in the mood, but my workshop group always got me in the mood.”