KJ’s Story: Employed + Empowered

May 4, 2021 | Success Stories

Kenneth (KJ) has overcome enormous obstacles in his quest for success. Born at Jefferson Davis Hospital in downtown Houston, KJ grew up in the Acres Homes neighborhood of Houston. Acres Homes was developed around the time of World War l when it was settled by African Americans mainly from rural areas.

KJ’s family family moved to Humble during his middle school years, but he dropped out of high school when he was a sophomore.

“I just got tired of school,” said KJ, “and deep down I didn’t feel like it was preparing me for success.”

Although he obtained his GED right away, success continued to elude KJ, and he found himself making bad decisions.

In 1999, KJ was charged with robbery with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to prison, where he remained for almost eighteen years (from 12/20/99 to 8/23/2017). As difficult as it was, during that time, KJ made a conscious decision to turn his incarceration into a learning experience.

“I don’t want to glorify incarceration or my hardships, but I had to learn from them.” said KJ, “I used my incarceration as an educational experience. It helped heal me and taught me I am in control of doing right.”

During his time behind bars, KJ knew he needed a plan so that he could succeed when released. He always loved truck driving and wanted to eventually obtain his CDL.

“I developed the drive to succeed while I was locked up,” said KJ, “I went to college while there to keep my mind fresh. I asked myself what I could do to make my life better. And, I knew I had to have a plan.”

SERJobs works with Harris County Jail and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for outreach and recruitment of individuals who are scheduled for release.

“When I got out, I had already heard about SER’s reentry program and I called to found out about their CDL class.” said KJ, “I was accepted right away and went through the class in 6 weeks, got my license, and 5 days later I got a job with a company that hires felons. I wanted to get the time and experience. It was a stepping stone for me. I learned a lot from them and how to be a better employee.”

Now, KJ has a new job in Idaho for one of the best companies in the country. The financial education and coaching services he received have allowed him to begin thinking about building wealth.

“I am very appreciative of what SER did for me.” Said KJ, “They helped me get my TWIC card, clothes, and other support to make it through tough times. SER was really there. Eventually I want to own my own trucking business, now that I’ve learned so much and have the opportunity. I am really grateful. I didn’t let anyone tell me what I can and cannot do. After being incarcerated for so long, I’m ready to travel. Now I’m hitting the road. If people need to get in touch they can call me in my office – my truck!”