PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The day started off like any other graduation. Senator Vincent Hughes encouraged the graduates reminding them “You have to send a message to other people that they can do it too. You have to send a message that no matter how difficult it may seem that they can overcome also. That’s your charge” The gathered families, message of encouragement and hope for a brighter future are all pretty standard but two young graduates named Brittany and Alexis explained why this event was different. Brittany pointed out that “I just came home from state prison, I’m an ex heroin addict and I’m only twenty. And Alexis expressed the challenges of trying to get their lives back on track. “We all got a past, we all have a criminal past that a lot of people don’t look past.”
Watching them celebrate it was hard to see them as many in society do as addicts and felons but thankfully for them Alexis Smith told Fox 29 that a local program looks past what they’ve done into who they are. “They just want you here to fix yourself. It feels like a family, you’ve got support as soon as you walk in the door.”
The program is a partnership between Uplift Workforce Solutions and Jeff Brown’s Supermarkets. they graduated on Tuesday, no rest, because just two days later they start their guaranteed jobs. Its that guarantee that Brittany Beers believes has made the program so successful. “You hear about reentry programs all the time but not one of them did what they did and give you a guaranteed job afterwards. It was breathtaking that somebody believed in you and gave you a second chance.”
Entrepreneur Jeff Brown hires them and the Uplift program trains them. Why? The Executive Director of Uplift Solutions, Atif Bostic explained they were compelled to help because environment and circumstance can lead good people who need a chance to feel hopeless. “to have a second chance you had to have a first chance and in a lot of these communities individuals weren’t afforded a first chance.”
Whatever chance you want to call it it was clear that the graduates plan to take full advantage of the opportunity. Alexis is inspired to succeed and told us its because of the trust the program showed in them. “The last thing that someone like me or any of my teammates is gonna do is let them down.”
Brittany agreed with Alexis message and expressed it to everyone in a poem during the graduation ceremony “We were once a voice without a sound, royalty without a crown, once I was lost but now I’m finally found and I thank the uplift program.”
They are thankful For the opportunity to change their lives for goodness sake.