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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Jacobsen

Offering Hope and a Second Chance

They are bankers, CEOs, engineers and small business owners. Some are attorneys, preachers, college students and former law enforcement officials. All have a common thread of donating time and talent to the Parole Project.

Their personal reasons for volunteering vary, but all share a belief in the organization’s mission to help clients reach their full potential.

“Eventually you’re going to end up where you want to be, and then God smiles,” said SJB Group Principal Wilfred Barry, who joined the Parole Project’s board and volunteers his time coaching clients re-entering society. He volunteers many hours teaching job seeking and interviewing skills.

“I was looking at the numbers, and I could see this organization has the power to actually change lives,” he said.

Barry, who owns a Baton Rouge-based civil engineering firm, said when clients have realistic expectations they are more resilient and less likely to feel defeated by the inevitable disappointments and rejections in job searches.

Volunteers – some of them college students – teach client reentry skills, workplace etiquette, personal wellness, stress management, consumer protection and smart phone and Internet skills. A volunteer college organization, Tiger Prison Project, conducts workshops on resume writing, job application assistance and basic computer literacy.

Others, like film producer Jason Furrate, spent hours producing a “Believe in Second Chances” video that was featured in the Parole Project’s 2020 fund-raiser. Another, Rafael Jacobs-Perez is developing a database to improve case management and information retrieval.

“We give clients some much needed hope,” Barry said. “And in giving we each receive a blessing.”

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