OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla -- Alex Evitt is forging a new path for himself. The former Department of Corrections inmate is gainfully employed as an apprentice on the new Oklahoma City Convention Center. According to Evitt, “Years from now it’ll be kind of cool to tell my kids I did that and I did that. And maybe they’ll get motivated to do the same.”
Alex is a recent student of TEEM which stands for “the education and employment ministry.” The non-profit is breaking the cycle of incarceration and poverty. Evitt said, “I believe it kind of prepared me for the real world. As you come out of the Department of Corrections, there is nothing that’s going to be easy.”
This program prepares men and women with the skills necessary to secure and maintain meaningful employment. Construction Technology Instructor, Adrian Prophet said, “A good portion of them don’t have any construction related experience so all these things are pretty foreign. As you introduce them to the safety and working knowledge they get some of those light bulb moments come on. They get a smile on their face and they get to feel rewarded with this achievement in their own lives.”
TEEM currently offers carpentry and culinary classes. These women learn how to prepare a full menu of tasty morsels and successfully managing a kitchen.
Dreams, once thought unreachable, are now within their grasp. One inmate told us, “Ultimately I want to own my own franchise but to get there I have to get a job. And I’ve been applying as a cook.”
As they prepare to re-enter the workforce, participants are given clothes and personal health and hygiene products. TEEM leaders say it promotes professionalism and confidence. TEEM Developing Director, Mandy Dorman said, “Anything they need to help their family go through difficult times and try to get back on their feet. We try to provide those incentives. When they put a suit on, they get to feel good about themselves. The employer gets to feel good about the person they are interviewing and get rid of the things that might have stood in their way before.”
These training programs create self-sufficient, tax paying citizens with a 75% employment rate.
Alex Evitt is a shining example of what can happen when there is a TEEM of people willing to give second chances. “The world is their oyster and the sky is the limit,” Dorman said.