- SUCCESS STORIES
Learn how the young men we serve achieve success with support from Getting Out and Staying Out.
John joined GO&SO while in prison. For most of his life, he had had no adult male who helped him make positive steps toward adulthood. However, he made friends with older inmates during incarceration who convinced him to leave drugs, gangs and violence behind after he was released. When he came to the GOSO office, what he needed most was guidance - how to succeed at the next steps in his reentry plan. GOSO’s staff quickly became a resource as he worked to establish a healthier community for himself. He became a regular client at GOSO, learning how to dress for interviews and what to say to prospective employers. He learned what his rights as a previously incarcerated person are. John now enjoys his job installing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment. He is also attending Medgar Evers College, where is studying business. He stops by GOSO frequently to say hello and chat with clients.
Tyler was born and raised in New York City. At the age of four he and his siblings were removed from their mother’s care by the Administration for Children’s services due to her problems with substance use. Tyler and his older brother were placed in kinship foster care with their maternal aunt who adopted Tyler when he was 14 years old. During that time Tyler began to spend more and more time out in the streets, until, at the age of 14 he dropped out of the 9th grade and became involved with drug sales and crime. When he was 16 years-old he was arrested and incarcerated at Rikers Island and subsequently convicted. While he was awaiting sentencing on Riker’s Island, Tyler began attending GED preparation classes at Horizon Academy (now East River Academy,) where he met Mark Goldsmith and learned about Getting Out and Staying Out. Tyler participated in GOSO’S weekly mentoring sessions on Riker’s Island before being sentenced to 6 years in an upstate correctional facility. While upstate, Tyler kept in regular contact with GOSO through its correspondence program. With GOSO’s encouragement he continued to prepare for the GED and passed his exams in 2007.
One of Tyler’s first stops after he was released from prison in the summer of 2009 was GOSO’s East Harlem office, where he met with a Career Manager and the Director of Social Services (DSS). His Career Manager helped him articulate short and long-term goals for his future and develop an implementation plan, his personal Reentry Plan. The DSS addressed his most pressing immediate problem, a lack of stable housing. Because his adoptive mother was now living in a retirement home, the DDS helped arrange for him to stay temporarily at the Charles H. Gay Homeless Shelter on Ward’s Island.
After several subsequent supportive counseling sessions with the DSS, Tyler approached his biological mother about moving into her apartment and despite their strained relationship settled in with her. With the help of the DDS Tyler developed coping skills that enabled him to work with her to address their unresolved problems. Once he had secured a stable living situation, Tyler was able to focus on his future and quickly began to flourish. His first big steps were to enroll in the College of New Rochelle’s Harlem Campus and prepare to look for employment.
Tyler worked one-on-one with GOSO’s Job Developer and attended a series of life skills and job readiness seminars to develop his interview skills and acquire the discipline necessary to hold down a job. Equally important, GOSO supplied him with clothing appropriate for a job interview and helped him build the confidence to land his first job as a stock room worker at one of the Manhattan’s largest sporting goods stores. Using the income he was earning from his full time job, Tyler was able to rent his own room and begin to live his own.
Currently, Tyler is in his third semester at the College of New Rochelle and is maintaining a 3.8 GPA. In the coming year, he plans to transfer to the John Jay College for Criminal Justice to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.
Robert, the younger of two children, was born in Brooklyn and raised primarily by his single mother. When Robert was 11 years old he and his older brother were removed from his mother’s care by the Administration for Children’s Services due to his mother’s drug use. Robert’s older brother decided to move to Florida and Robert was placed with a foster care family. Robert had an incredibly difficult time adjusting to being away from his family and began acting out in school and at his foster home. At the age of 16 he was placed in group home for adolescents with behavioral issues. Robert continued to struggle, eventually dropping out of high school.
When he was 18 Robert signed himself out of foster care and moved to Florida to live with his brother. After a hard year in Florida, Robert decided to move back to New York City, but quickly found himself with nowhere to go and no family support. He bounced around the shelter system for almost two years before moving in with his girlfriend, whom he eventually married. Robert settled in, found work as a sheet metal worker and joined the union. He and his wife found a stable apartment and had a baby daughter. But Robert had little exposure to stable, healthy relationships growing up, and when he and his wife began arguing on a regular basis, he lacked the resources and experience to effectively cope with their problems. Their conflicts eventually resulted in a domestic violence incident that landed Robert on Riker’s Island for almost a year. While attending GED classes there, Robert met Mr. Goldsmith, who signed him and over the following weeks helped him formulate plans for his future.
Robert arrived at GOSO during first week after he was released. The Director of Social Services quickly helped him to address his most immediate needs for housing and employment. Because he had aged out of foster care, Robert was eligible for the Department of Human Resources’ supportive housing program in which with GOSO’s assistance, enabled him to get his own apartment. The Career Management team helped to find him a position at the New York Horticulture Society as a member of their Green Team Program.
But Robert had defined his most important reentry goal as reestablishing his relationship with his three year-old daughter and playing an active role in her upbringing. Once he was back on his feet, he was able to begin working toward that objective. He completed anger management program seminar and fatherhood counseling at GOSO, and with the DSS at his side in family court, he was awarded weekend visitation rights with his daughter. Robert now works during the week and enjoys spending weekends with his daughter at his apartment.
Andrew was raised by his single mother in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. During his childhood, he was surrounded by drugs and violence and at a very young age he was swept up in the street life of the neighborhood. While in middle school, Andrew starting selling and using drugs and shortly after graduating to high school he dropped out to pursue a life of crime. He was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and sent to Riker’s Island where he immediately began attending Horizon Academy and where he first met Getting Out and Staying Out. Andrew participated in weekly mentoring sessions with Mark Goldsmith, the President and CEO of GOSO. After release from prison, he spent 22 months in a residential drug rehabilitation program, obtained his commercial drivers license, and found full-time employment driving an ambulette. Although he had been drug-free for some time, not having his GED prevented him from leaving the program and finding adequate employment. Andrew persevered and, with the aid of tutoring at GOSO, passed the GED, just before the birth of his first child. Andrew knew he needed a better job to fulfill his dreams for his family. When the opportunity came to apply for a dispatcher’s position, Andrew arranged for two sessions at GOSO to discuss how to negotiate the interview and what benefits he should ask for. He secured the new job with an increase in salary and the full benefits that he needs to support his new family. Recently Andrew was able to purchase a house. Andrew’s determination to overcome addiction, further his education and create a new life for himself has set an example for other clients at GOSO.
Alex grew up in the Flushing section of Queens with his sister and parents. His childhood was normal until, after the sudden death of his mother, his behavior quickly devolved. He began associating with peers who were involved in crime in his community and getting into trouble in school. When he was 17 Alex was arrested and was sentenced to seven years upstate. Before beginning his upstate sentence, Alex met GOSO staff on Riker’s Island and signed up for the program. While participating in GOSO’s Upstate Correspondence program Alex expressed an interest participating in Ohio University’s College for the Incarcerated program and with the help of a full GOSO scholarship, he began taking correspondence courses. Within weeks of each other, Alex, received his Associate’s Degree in Science from Ohio University's College Program for the Incarcerated and was released from prison. Since then, Alex has become certified as a physical fitness trainer and works full time as a personal trainer. He wasted no time in enrolling in Queens College, and this spring, he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors Degree in Nutritional and Exercise Sciences. Alex continues to work as a personal trainer while pursuing a career in the field of Nutrition and Exercise.