Second chances — they can be valuable in life. That’s the thinking behind an annual career fair held by The Greater Waterbury Reentry Council, (GWREC). Their website describes themselves as a collaboration of federal, state, and local organizations and individuals who provide information, resources, and support for people getting out of jail or prison in order to help them achieve productive and purposeful lives.
“I remember what it felt like to first come home and try to find a job without support or anyone there to guide you,” said Markus Cherry, who was behind bars from 2003 to 2010 for a bank robbery in New London.
He says reliving that time locked up is painful.
“It hits me hard,” Cherry said. “I was embarrassed to tell my family members what happened.”
News8 asked him why he did it.
“Today I could say it was stupidity but mostly because I thought it was the only way,” Cherry said. “I thought it was the only thing that would give me the kind of money that I needed to be alright.”
Cherry says he’s alright now, thanks to GWREC. He made contacts through GWREC that led him to the resources he needed to know how and where to look for jobs and get back on his feet again and walk down the right path in life.
Today, he found work at an agency that helps others and he was at the GWREC Career Fair on Friday letting other previously-incarcerated individuals know there are resources out there to help them reenter society and become positive people again — making positive contributions.
“What our Waterbury program offers is job readiness training,” Cherry told a group of people, seeking help. The opportunity to be able to lend a hand is one way he’s trying to turn his life around.
Outside the career fair, News8 found Brennan Moriarty, a Navy veteran and someone who used to be behind bars himself. He told News8 he was arrested in the past for attempted identity theft.
“I, myself, am both a veteran of the United States Navy and an ex-offender,” Moriarty said. “I just recently ended my sentence of 2 years and reintegrated back into the community.”
Moriarty says events like the one held by GWREC are vital because knowing where to go and how to get an opportunity when you now have a record is a challenge.
“The more awareness, the more access to employment, to good mental health services, to job skills, the better off the entire community’s going to be,” he said.