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Acceptance and Rejection

March 28, 2018

Recently I agreed to an interview with Alex Guarino to tell ‘my story’ after she heard some of it at an event at Foxes Boxes in Wilmington.  I agreed in the hopes to ‘put a face’  on how so many with felony backgrounds do struggle to find work.  Additionally, I’d hoped to use this platform as a chance to share my testimony of how God’s grace had brought me from darkness to light.  While the portions of the interview left much out (and stated that I’d  been drafted and sent to Vietnam, something I’d joined the Navy and volunteered for submarines to avoid), it was heartening to hear so many positive things from many that had not realized before that my background included a criminal record.


Then on Monday, March 26th, I was advised that my services as a volunteer on the Battleship North Carolina were no longer required, especially if it was in any aspect of my work involving interaction with the public.  Kim Sincox, who’d been the person that I interacted with most as a volunteer, was the person who delivered the message, telling me that it wasn’t anything personal…


Even before I was released from prison, I had begun to realize that my hopes for meaningful work would be an adventure.  As I filled out one application after another for work release, I quickly discovered that my naivete’ about finding work of any kind had not prepared me for the rigors of this search.  I assumed that as I had nearly completed the court-ordered sentence placed upon me (thereby fulfilling my ‘debt’ to society) and had even earned an Associates of Science degree in computers while in prison, that I would find work in IT or related field fairly quickly.


After my release, this search continued; by the time I’d all but given up I had applied for over 800 different positions in varying companies (including both the ones applied for while seeking work in prison and after).  Finally, in desperation for income, when I reached the age of 62 I  filed for my Social Security even though with my time in prison I would only receive just over $600.00 per month.  I had begun volunteering with different agencies in the Triangle (where we lived at the time) but continued to seek employment to no avail.


We relocated to the Wilmington area in hopes that an agency here would hire me (one of their supervisors had expressed an interest in me when I met her for a position assisting those coming out of prison in finding work).  Once we were in Wilmington, I followed their website daily waiting for the position to be posted.  When it did appear, I submitted my application with resume and appropriate documents and waited while checking the site at least twice a day.  After a month the position was no longer listed, having been filled without even a phone call from them.  It seemed the combination of my age and my felony would prove insurmountable barriers to meaningful employment, but was thankful to find other avenues in which to volunteer in the community.  Such activity took much of the sting of rejection at not finding work, giving me a sense of fulfillment and purpose; at least until Monday.


I’ve been reminded that many feel that having a felony is an embarrassment to their organization and would distance themselves from involvement with me (at least where it comes to being in the public eye).  Thankfully I’ve also been shown how others continue to value my efforts on their organization’s part and welcome my continued volunteering with them.  What is most important is knowing that nothing of what has happened can cause my King to reject me.  His grace is beyond my understanding, but the one thing that is immutable in my life.  That rock is a foundation that I can build upon and will continue to do so for whatever remains of my life.  Whether as a volunteer or in some paid position, my desire to serve the community remains unchanged.

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