Shay Hawes knows something about second chances. After getting out of prison, Hawes found life really difficult for someone with his background. He struggled to find steady work and housing. “Being in prison, having charges…I was running around, trying to find work, and was in and out of transitional housing,” Hawes said. While staying at Welcome House, a Kansas City organization that provides residents with sober living options and recovery programs, Hawes began to focus on gaining skills to help him find a good job. “I was over at Welcome House, trying to get my life on track,” Hawes said. “I took some forklifting classes, but I was interested in getting my CDL.” He learned that he could do that through the Full Employment Council. “I had a clear goal to change my life,” said Hawes. “I had the passion, I just didn’t know about the resources. Once I got into the FEC, everything changed.” Hawes has now been out on the road for five months, driving for Butler Transport in Kansas City, a trucking company that gives former felons the opportunity to have a great career in transportation. His new career has allowed him to move into his own home, as well. “The transition can be hard, but Butler has been a great company for second chances,” Hawes said. He added that becoming a truck driver is a good choice for those coming out of the justice system. “You’re already used to sleeping in close quarters,” he explained. He is learning how to drive in all weather conditions, and in all types of terrain, as he crosses the country in his truck, with his dog Bellini by his side.
“She goes everywhere I go,” Hawes said. As for anyone else who is needing a second chance, Hawes advised to find a place in the community. “Get involved, and be part of your community, and acclimate to society before you make a life-changing decision,” he said. He also recommends understanding the resources available to people – including the services offered through the Full Employment Council. Additionally, he said that finding a second chance can be hard. “Sometimes, it feels like there’s no way out of this, this is just the way society is,” he said, but people need to push through that. “When you see the other side of it, your perception starts to change.” Lastly, Hawes recommends optimism. “Keep a positive outlook on life,” he finished. “Even when it’s hard.” The FEC can connect qualified residents of Cass, Clay, Jackson, Platte and Ray counties to debt-free training in transportation, including the necessary training needed to get a CDL. For more information, contact 816-471-2330.