Antwan went to prison when his son was two weeks old. It wasn’t Antwan’s first time in prison, but he decided it would be his last. He didn’t want his son to grow up with a father in prison. Antwan’s decision led him to Cleanstreet in Chicago the day after his release in 2007. He had heard about the employment program for ex-cons from his cousin-in-law who worked there. Cleanstreet is managed by Nav staff who use the business as a mission to impact people in need of a new start.
Most employers consider a prison record as an automatic disqualification for a job, making it difficult to financially support a decision to stay out of trouble. But the Cleanstreet team that Antwan now manages is made up of mostly ex-convicts who are trying to start over. Cleanstreet offers professional grade litter removal, snow removal, power washing, and landscaping services.
Cleanstreet is more than a job; it is a positive, supportive environment where men can make daily choices about their lives. Antwan remembers his first impression, “When Navigator Connie Milton gave a devotional message from the Bible at the team meeting, I felt like he was speaking directly to me. I knew that I wanted to be there and choose a different life. Also, as I worked in different parts of the city, I saw different ways of living, even in how people talked to each other and interacted in positive ways.”
Now, Antwan encourages new employees to have the motivation to make changes, “I tell them, it’s not going to happen without effort. You have to want to change and keep going in the right direction.”
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