Sweat drips off his brow as Michael puts the next batch of material into the mold press. He can feel the muscles in his arms and legs working as he transports the weighty substances to and fro in the warehouse and in and out of the hot machines. The work is physically demanding, yet gratifying. And with each completed shift, Michael feels his resolve of continuing to build a bright future for himself and his husband solidify even more, like the pieces he shapes each day at the industrial manufacturing company.

His coworkers at Armorcast Products would confirm his unwavering work ethic and commitment to getting the job done right. The inclusive, supportive culture cultivated there is one aspect of his job that he looks forward to each day. “It’s kind of like a family setting in our department,” he shares.

Michael didn’t grow up dreaming of the day he would get to work with liquified polymer concrete. But after nearly a decade in prison, he struggled to reconnect with the workforce.

Almost immediately after his release, he was referred to Chrysalis and began working with his Employment Specialist to assess his pathway forward. After completing our core program and accessing one-on-one resume-writing and practice interview services, he regularly accessed our computer lab to submit online job applications for potential positions he had narrowed down with his Employment Specialist. “It was discouraging at first,” he reflects, “I faced a lot of rejection. But my whole thing is, I’ve been a survivor all my life. I’ve been resilient since day one. I’m not going to let a few, or a couple thousand, negative job applications affect my willingness to go out and look for a job.”

Michael’s determination remained intact even when Chrysalis shifted away from offering in-person services amid the pandemic. He stayed in touch with his Employment Specialist virtually, who he shares provided more than just professional guidance during the job search. “She has been more of the emotional support for me than anything else. That’s what I value the most. Even though we were struggling from the job front standpoint, she was still there as a support network. The one-on-one individual attention made the most difference.”

Eventually, Michael learned about an opportunity to interview with Chrysalis hiring partner Armorcast through one of our business development managers and the Direct Hire program. After nearly a decade of being disconnected from the workforce, he jumped at the chance and was working with the company by the following Monday! In September, he will celebrate one year of employment.

As he describes what maintaining this job means to him, he paints a picture of laying a deeply set foundation on which he and his spouse can thrive. He celebrates having a 401k for himself. He highlights having safeguards in place and securing medical, dental, and pet insurance for the first time for his husband. He shares that they are saving for the home they will share. “When I finally met the man I’m married to now, it gave me a renewed sense of being,” he asserts, “And that motivation allowed me to set goals, dreams, and aspirations that I put into concrete. I’m not just doing this for me, but for him now too.”

Michael’s transformation is ever changing yet rooted in a core belief that Chrysalis shares for all of those we serve. We leave you with this final note from him: “Never judge a book by its cover. I made poor judgments in my past, but that’s not enough to define who I am. Don’t worry about what society labels you as. Just so long as you’re able to rise above it to your own standards, by your own merits, at your own pace, that’s all that really matters. There is nothing that is going to keep me from achieving my goals.”