Retrain. Reclaim. Renew. Second Chance is Second to NONE!

Posted on Aug 02, 2017
It's true people have interesting visions, and people make their vision's a reality to be sure. People also have ups and downs and have to pull themselves up and face a few challenges along the way.
But Mark Foster and Antonio Johnson from Second Chance are NOT YOUR AVERAGE "Oh, i have a cool idea." and "wow, that was close, guess i won't do that again" kind of people.  These amazing men are Life Changers, Life Savers, Life Makers and Visionaries, with every capital letter earned and then some. 
Mark Foster is the director and founder of Second Chance, a 501 (c)(3) non profit that is in the business of changing lives through second chances. Second Chance gives people, and materials a second chance... and they help the environment along the way.   Mark created Second Chance in 2001, to better organize access to reclaimed materials.  He noticed other "waste" in our communities too - wasted people without opportunities.  His need and what he saw opened his eyes to much more potential for doing something really important, and critical for the city.  Mark now runs a 150 person company that saves people and the planet.
Second Chance employs individuals facing employment barriers and trains them in "green collar jobs."  They do everything from deconstruction to retail service in the company store.  The company store by the way is bigger than THREE ( 3) Home Depots. Second chance reclaims and re-sells unused materials and accept donations of materials and furnishings from anywhere.  Through all of their programs they employ 150 people who are returning citizens; people who have been incarcerated for some part of their lives.  For some of these individuals, the job at Second Chance might be their first job.
Mark was joined at the Rotary meeting with his colleague Antonio Johnson. Antonio is a Second Chance success story, and a heck of a nice guy.... even though he made me cry. Glad i got to hug him during healthy hug time! Antonio is from the inner city and like many young people in our city today, at the age of 13, he was attracted to a life of crime. The money was good and it was hard to resist.  His story is not unique.  Antonio was shot several times by the age of 17, and even so, he continued to run with the same people, and finally got caught and spent nearly 10 years in prison.  He is a smart young man, and was lucky to have a good counselor who recognized that in him. After getting out of prison and working a so-so job, he heard about Second Chance. though skeptical because of his limited skills, he was told that what he needed was a willingness to learn.   That was EXACTLY what he wanted - to learn.  Antonio was hired in 2008 as a warehouse man. This was followed by several promotions across different parts of the company, including as cashier managing the money.  He is now the customer service manager. And, as he described the next stage of his life, he started to cry, and so did I. He announced to our club that he is also starting his own moving company. Second Chance took a chance on him and gave him the confidence and training to use his natural skills.  He is going to be great and use his own second chance to the very very best.  It is so clear that places like Second Chance opened the door to success for him. He has helped others, and he has created his own success as well. We need 1,000 more programs like Second Chance, to help people either before they need a second chance. or after. This is one answer that is a no brainer. Where are the Marks and Antonios? We could all be one of them any day, so let's keep up our work, as they do theirs. Thank you both!
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