"We're not just a crew; we're a family."
Twenty-five percent of Americans have a criminal record which limits their access to education, jobs, housing, and other opportunities they need for a full and productive life. Although many people with a criminal conviction have changed their values and mindsets, they face social stigma and more than 48,000 documented legal restrictions.
This "second prison" is one that Jordan Jeske knows well. As a former prisoner with a history of drug addiction, he's struggled to find a legitimate way to support himself and his family.
"It seems like everybody has a college degree," Jordan says, "so [if you're] coming out of prison, and you're already battling [to find] work, and now you're battling against somebody with a college education—who is obviously going to get that job?"
In 2015, Jordan opened Cornerstone Hauling and Gardening, a landscaping company in Marina, California. In just two years, the company has grown to sustain itself. What makes the company and its sister company, Cornerstone General Automotive, unique is their willingness to hire former prisoners.
"All of these employees are mostly ex-convicts," Jordan explains. "I usually hire guys who have felonies."
Harvey, a supervisor at Cornerstone Hauling and Gardening, is one of those guys. Harvey has been working at Cornerstone for nine months. He works five days a week at a job where no one looks down on him for his past.
"No one trusts you, after you've been in trouble, to get a good paying job," Harvey shares, "so thank God Jordan could bless me, and I now have a job that pays me enough so that I can afford to live."
Joey, who has been employed at Cornerstone for a year and a half, feels the same way.
"I had trouble finding work because of my drug habits and my felonies," he says. Joey eventually found a job as a well driller. Although he appreciated the work, the environment was not suited for him. "The people I was working with—they were unconducive to my recovery."
When Jordan offered him a job, Joey agreed to it immediately.
"I'm forever grateful," he says. "Jordan has helped me out so much—never asked me for anything."
BAND OF BROTHERS
"Jordan's not just a boss; he's a mentor," explains Joey. And it's true. Jordan cares about these men working for him. He wants to see them thrive on the outside.
Perhaps it's because he doesn't see these people as merely employees. He sees them as so much more.
"We're not just a crew; we're a family," Jordan says.
Hiring a former prisoner is one thing but living with one? In our third and final part of this series, we'll see why Jordan has invited these men into his home and family.
In case you missed it, check out Part I: "How a Hurting Man Found Compassion for the Lost."
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