A special gradutation ceremony in Philadelphia marks returning citizens to the workforce

It’s been changing lives for five years and now the Uplift program is celebrating a new graduating class.

"My name is Michael Dockerty. I am a universal, certified technician with my HVAC certification," Dockerty stated.

Dockerty is so much more than that. He, along with several dozen others who were formerly incarcerated or past drug users, celebrated a second chance Friday. A second chance that was earned, not given.

"It’s so gratifying to see people who have made a mistake in their life, that they get another chance to be successful and reach their full potential," Sandy Brown, Executive Vice President at Brown Superstores, said.

Brown spearheaded Uplift Solutions in 2017. The program helps returning citizens build stable and successful lives.

New Jersey native Ronald Scharnitz now has a job as a leveler at a local ShopRite. He says the program and the job have given him purpose. "I was on the path of going nowhere, either dead or in jail and it was the best decision I made to be clean."

Uplift’s HVAC program has a special impact, with mentoring that can change generations to come.

"As someone who has battled incarceration, homelessness and addiction, who has not been able to obtain employment. While attending this program, I’ve learned about respect, accountability, availability and conflict resolution," Dockerty explained.

Uplift has a 98 percent success rate in keeping graduates from slipping back into the system or abuse.