Emily Receives a Second Chance

Emily M. knew that she had to prove to her family and friends that she was serious about her sobriety. But first, she had to find a job. 

She was willing to accept work at any wage. Unfortunately, very few businesses were hiring because of the global pandemic. 

Every day presented one challenge after another. The requirements of her court-ordered supervision stressed her emotionally and physically. She faced constant disappointment in her job searches. She felt stripped of her identity. 

And she was eight months pregnant.  

"I was unemployable. I had a court case that required me to have proof of income and a job. I tried to explain to the judge, I'm eight months pregnant. You can't get a job anywhere. And then with COVID-19, no one was going to hire a pregnant woman to work." 

Taking the First Step Toward Recovery 
Giving up was not an option. Instead, Emily focused on what was most important, finding a job that allowed her to recover. One day, Emily noticed a flyer for Second Chance Initiative on the bulletin board at her therapist's office. After learning from one of the women in her therapy that she could care for her newborn, Emily applied for the position. It was the type of work-life balance that Second Chance Initiative strives to provide for all its employees.   

She impressed the interviewers during her initial interview, which was held virtually. Soon after, the organization invited her to an in-person, follow-up  interview. However, before the second interview could take place, Emily went into labor. She had to cancel her interview.  

It was one of her fears coming true. Because Emily worried that her pregnancy would prevent her from getting a job, she did not tell Second Chance Initiative  that she was pregnant during her initial interview.  

Later, Emily was pleasantly surprised to learn that Second Chance Initiative still wanted to interview her. About a month after her follow-up interview, she started as a member of the organization's Electronic Team.  

Emily would later learn that she was hired because Second Chance Initiative focuses on its employees' future, not their past. It's hiring philosophy is "hire the attitude, not the skill." 

Initially, Emily was worried about how important her recovery and her children were.  

She maintained her sobriety to ensure the health of the child she was carrying. 

"If you really need a second chance and you're serious about your recovery and  serious about moving forward, this is a good place to do it. There's room for  growth for people who want it. It's a place to build your confidence back and gain your self-purpose."

She was going to manage a job and care for a newborn. Second Chance Initiative recognized that Emily would need accommodations. As a result, Second Chance Initiative worked with her to craft a position to give her the  flexibility that she needed. 

The virtual position on the Electronic Team allowed her to work from home and attend intensive outpatient therapy sessions to deal with her daily stressors so that she could demonstrate that she was fit to have custody of her older children.  

Discovering New Skills and New Mindsets 
The Electronic Team works with customers on the development of the artwork that goes on Second Chance Initiative's custom coffee mugs. Although she had no experience with electronic design, Emily established herself as a valued team member because she worked hard to learn how to use the software.  

To her surprise, design was something that struck a chord in her. "I never realized that I was creative and that I enjoyed being creative. It's an outlet for me," she says. "I had zero knowledge of Photoshop. Now, I know a lot about Photoshop." 

Emily's direct supervisor recognized her potential and began mentoring her. "My supervisor was amazing," remembers Emily. "She was an awesome teacher and taught me so much." 

Demonstrating Leadership 
After a couple of months on the Electronic Team, Emily became the Electronic Team's Weekend Team Lead. She had never been a manager before and found that she enjoyed being the person that others looked to for guidance.  

Her experience being Weekend Team Lead led her to seek more responsibility. After her 90-day anniversary at Second Chance Initiative, Emily set a goal of assuming a leadership role in the organization.  

Second Chance Initiative worked with Emily to create a development plan to achieve her goals. The organization slowly gave her more responsibilities and opportunities to be a leader. First, Emily was elevated to Interim Operations Manager. She later transferred to her current position as Operations Supervisor/Program Administrator. These positions carried more responsibility and challenged Emily to develop business skills.  

"I'm learning a lot more about spreadsheets. I'm working on budgets because I do purchasing and I have to stay within a budget," explains Emily. "That's helping me in my personal life too. It's made me more conscious about my spending." 

Demonstrating Reliability, Accountability, and Responsibility 
Although Emily was making professional advances, she was still earning back the trust of her family. She also needed to show the court that she could be more involved in her older children's lives.  

As the weeks passed, Emily reestablished her pride in herself and her work. At Second Chance Initiative, she gained the respect of her peers, who voted for her as "Hardest Working" team member. That recognition would later be formalized as part of Second Chance Initiative's certificate program. 

Emily felt confident. With her position at Second Chance Initiative secure, she satisfied the court's requirement that she have a job and income. Even an unexpected result on a drug test (which was later shown to be erroneous) did  not shake her determination to build a better life for herself and her children.  

In total, Emily spent approximately five years under court supervision. In August 2021, after working with Second Chance Initiative for less than a year, Emily was released from all court-ordered conditions.  

During her time at Second Chance Initiative, Emily established herself as a hard-working leader and developed marketable business skills. Most importantly, she regained partial custody of her eldest son.  

"I'm back to my old self, like how I was before my addiction took over my life. I am again reliable, accountable, and responsible. I'm all of the things I was not while entering into the program at Second Chance Initiative. It's a complete change. I'm like a different person," explains Emily. "My parents and children have noticed the difference and even my ex-husband said that he was proud of me and noticed a difference. When I think about last Mother's Day to the one before that, I didn't have any of my children with me. Now, I have  some of them with me. That's huge growth."

Inspired by Emily's Story? 
Learn more about Second Chance Initiative's activities to support women in recovery by providing them with a safe place to learn skills to become self-sufficient by visiting Second Chance Initiative's website and Etsy storefront  www.her2ndchance.org.