Take a moment to #turnthepage and read the tear-jerking stories of our clients, donors and volunteers about the reasons they became apart of the T.O.R.I. program and the life-changing impact the Texas Offenders Reentry Initiative has had on their lives.
“Where I grew up, work makes a man. Going to work and getting a paycheck – that’s the sign that you have become a man. Biblically, I know I am supposed to be a provider for my family. That’s all that I ever wanted to be. One mistake took that all away from me for so long.” Bradley says, with a tone of confidence and sorrow.
Bradley grew up watching his father and grandfather run their family’s painting company. Bradley’s love for the painting business grew throughout his childhood, and he dreamed of owning the business one day. Therefore, he began working alongside his father in high school after his grandfather passed away.
“I feel like I grew up in the painting business. One of the coolest things about that is that you get to go inside buildings at night – malls, movie theatres, offices – and no one is there. It’s so still and quiet.” Bradley reflects with a smile.
After high school, Bradley enrolled in a business management certificate program at the local university. The classes were beneficial to Bradley, and after his father was diagnosed with cancer, Bradley took over the family business.
Bradley welcomed the challenge. He’d seen his father and grandfather build a relatively successful small company but had an eye for more. He wanted to grow the business, hire more employees, and increase the number of jobs and contracts. Each day, Bradley woke up with ideas of excellence. He worked towards these goals with incredible drive and hard work.
“I built something that I was proud of. My father was so ill from the chemo most days couldn’t quite understand all the progress I made. I hoped he would recover and see what I had built in his and my grandfather’s names one day.”
Bradley often tells people, “Sometimes, the worst thing that ever happens to you comes in the form of what seems like a great opportunity.” Not long after Bradley had built the company into a successful business that employed a dozen licensed professionals and boasted a fleet of vans, a local landlord with various properties across DFW approached Bradley. He offered Bradley an opportunity that included having Bradley’s company “on retainer.” In exchange, the landlord and Bradley would be “financially tied.” He would pay Bradley and his company handsomely to paint all his properties. In addition, there would be a shared account so Bradley could access money for needed materials.
“I couldn’t plead innocent. I could see the accounts, too. It was obvious that the landlord played fast and loose. He also randomly wrote me many checks, which I accepted without question. At the time, I thought I was paying my employees and covering my dad’s medical bills – I didn’t want to ask questions. I should have asked more questions.”
Ultimately, what the landlord did was illegal, and the F.B.I. implicated Bradley.
“It wasn’t like in the movies. They didn’t offer me a great deal to cooperate. Just like that landlord, I faced money laundering, bribery, wire fraud, and tax evasion charges—all federal. I don’t know if you know this, but the feds don’t give probation. You serve the whole sentence.” Bradley explains.
Indeed, Bradley served his whole sentence. During that time, his father died, his mother died, and the family business collapsed. His criminal record precluded him from any new professional licensure, and the idea of opening another business was not viable. Speaking with a man he met at the bus stop one day, he heard about the T.O.R.I. program. The man kept talking about how T.O.R.I. helped him get a job that paid a real living wage. That interested him immensely.
“I wanted to feel that sense of worth again. I wanted to contribute again. I wanted to make up for lost time.” Bradley said firmly.
After Bradley had completed various assessments and begun his employment coaching class, his T.O.R.I. case manager set up an interview with one of T.O.R.I.’s employment partners, who valued his experience and understood his unique circumstances.
The employer called his case manager to speak about Bradley’s interview. “It’s apparent to me that this gentleman made some mistakes along the way, but he brings so much value. His knowledge, skills, and experience are immense. We’d be honored to offer him a position and to work alongside T.O.R.I. to ensure his success,” the employer said sincerely.
The company that offered Bradley the position is a national paint supplier and contractor. Today, Bradley continues to work in the field he and his family have loved.
“I still listen to that quiet in an empty space. I still enjoy being in those buildings after hours, just me and a can of paint. Sometimes, I can almost feel my grandfather and father beside me.” Bradley says with a twinkle in his eye. “I like to think that they are proud of me. They are standing beside me, watching me, and ensuring I never make the same mistake again.”