Robert greets his freeway maintenance crew at 7 a.m. sharp. As the group clocks in and reviews safety protocols, he sees that one of the individuals appears discouraged and learns that they almost skipped their shift. After a brief chat, Robert convinces him to stick it out.

Chrysalis Roads is a division of our employment social enterprise that employs individuals on parole or active probation who have exited the justice system. As an individual with a history of involvement in the carceral system and substance use, Robert can relate to feeling like the barriers to starting over are insurmountable.

Robert became a father as a teenager. He dropped out of high school, worked two jobs to provide for his family, and was faced with a painful separation from his son’s mother three years later. After turning to illegal ways of making money, he became substance dependent as a means to cope. He shares that turning himself into the police was the first step to getting sober and changing his life.

From the other end of the inmate phone, his son would say how much he missed him. “That would break me inside,” he reflects. Then, when Robert’s mother was faced with various life-threatening illnesses, he shares, “Every day I was in there, I was praying, please Lord don’t take her. I knew that was enough. My family needed me.” From that point on, Robert was determined to work on becoming the best version of himself that he could be.

“If it wasn’t for Chrysalis, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”

Robert was referred to Chrysalis by his parole officer. He beams when he talks about working with a volunteer on his first professional resume. After completing our job-readiness classes and learning the basics of hard and soft skills, interviewing, and more, Robert secured an entry-level position at a local restaurant chain. As the months went by, he accepted numerous promotions and went on to manage two locations. In another moment of need, his Chrysalis Employment Specialist connected him with funds to replace his broken refrigerator.

Robert was eventually referred to a transitional job with Chrysalis Roads. After four short months, he was promoted, and another six months later, he accepted a permanent position with Chrysalis as a supervisor. Today, he supports the business division by filling in to supervise crews that provide landscaping services from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County. When not out in the field, Robert manages logistics and ensures that vital administrative duties are complete.

“I stay positive, I work as hard as I can at my job, and I just try to be the best me I can be.”

Robert’s optimism uplifts those around him. He urges, “Stay positive. Work hard. Be patient. If you’re really dedicated, you’ll get there.” Today, he celebrates five years of sobriety, being present and providing for his son, mother, and family, and continues to impact the lives of those with whom he works.

It’s late afternoon. As the crew comes back together to clock out and say their goodbyes, Robert is approached by the individual from earlier in the day – only this time, they are smiling and encouraged. A brief thank you and a handshake later, Robert heads home to his family knowing that he did his part.

And that is why it’s so much more than a job.