Every Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) staffer can easily rattle off several success stories.
For Lateefah Strickland, the site director at the Philadelphia office, it's a juvenile lifer – someone sentenced to life in prison for a crime committed before turning 18 years old – who went behind bars at 14 years old and was released at 42. It took three months before the individual could find a job, but he eventually obtained a driver's license, bought a car, and rented an apartment. Strickland was proud that CEO could be a part of so many firsts.
For Sam Hanna, CEO's business development coordinator for the entire Mid-Atlantic and Upstate New York Regions, it was a 40-year-old who spent half of his life in prison. Unable to find a job due to his record, the gentleman grew so frustrated that he contemplated taking his own life. His friends and family convinced him otherwise, and he eventually landed a job with Philadelphia's non-emergency civil services department (311), where he's now a supervisor.
"I live here, I work here, and I want to help sustain and uplift the community that has helped me. But at the end of the day, I think we're all doing the work we do because we have a certain level of empathy within us, and we have a certain level of drive to just uplift whoever it is. If I can help, I'm here to help," Hanna said.
For Jackie Weinberger, the Mid-Atlantic regional director for CEO, it's the story of Abd'Allah Lateef, a juvenile lifer who was 17 when he was put behind bars and released after three decades in prison. A Philadelphia native, Lateef advocates for sentencing reform and is on the board of CEO.
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