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Organization helps ex-inmates get back to work

Project Hope provides training, education, and access to employers

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SAN ANTONIO – Three men, who attended a Project Hope seminar, sponsored by the George Gervin Youth Center Workforce Development program, shared their struggles of trying to find work after being released from prison.

Milo Richardson served 50 years ago for stabbing a man.

"I was a junior in high school when I went to prison," Richardson said.

Fabian Aguero said he was released from prison 21 years ago. He served time for three DWI convictions. He just lost a longtime job as an auditor. Now that he’s seeking new employment, he said his past haunting him. 

"We're just a number. People don't see us as a human, just as a number," Aguero said.

Jimmy Martinez was just 17 years old when he was locked up. Now in his 30s, he's spent almost a third of his life in prison. The father of two said he's committed to staying on the straight and narrow. He said he just wants a construction job to feed his family.

"I think everybody deserves a second chance.  I think it'd be a whole lot easier if we could get a second chance," Martinez said.

Project Hope mentor specialist Zafiro Mendoza said many of those who approach her for job guidance share a similar tale of being shackled to their past mistakes.

"A lot of our clients come in with that story,” Mendoza said. “’I've been in prison for so long, and the door keeps getting shut.’”

Mendoza said Project Hope is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. She said the program helps ex-inmates open doors that have been closed, providing education, job skills training, and networking with companies that provide second chances for ex-inmates.