When Aurelio first arrived at Passage Home, he was very selective sharing information regarding his past. Choosing his words with careful thought and consideration. It took a while, but Aurelio soon realized that if he were going to get help—real help—he would have to open up. He spent his childhood in an all-too-typical household plagued by generations of poverty, and a neighborhood infested with drugs, violence, and neglect. With expectation of failure by society, Aurelio was taken hostage by street life, leading to a series of poor decisions and ultimately a 27-year prison sentence. Much to his credit, Aurelio didn’t let his story end there. Aurelio paid his debt to society, and, upon his release—after being denied housing over forty times—adequate employment over a hundred times—and many other barriers to successful reintegration to society, he finally got a warm welcome in the form of a small company in Michigan. Aurelio was lucky to find employment. Far too many companies write possible employees off before they start because of previous justice involvement. However, this job was not enough for Aurelio. While working, Aurelio maintained a 4.0 as a fulltime student at Wayne County Community College and earned two Associates Degrees. Looking back, when Aurelio was 17 years old, he passed on an opportunity to leave Detroit and go to another state. He missed the opportunity to start over. Once again, after falling on some bad luck, he became overwhelmed and saw two clear paths to choose from: stay and succumb to his sudden misfortune or take the opportunity he skipped as a teenager—leave everything and walk into the unknown.
North Carolina ranked high in job growth and his research told him that he could find a career and further his education here. The immediate transition to NC was not easy. Aurelio lived at the Men’s Shelter when he first heard of Passage Home. He arrived at our doors employed but making $9.00 per hour. He wanted more. More education, more money, more social and economic mobility. Aurelio heard of our various class offerings through our Workforce Development program and wanted to pursue the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Associate Certification Course. He began a self-paced training in September 2020. In just over 90 days—with the support of Passage Home and his case manager—Aurelio moved from the Men’s Shelter to better housing and completed his AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification. His hard work and perseverance did not go unnoticed. Passage Home had a job opening that fit his skill set, and we wanted a person of Aurelio’s character on our team. Aurelio is now a Maintenance Tech here at Passage Home. He is earning more than a living wage and full benefits—including a matching retirement plan—for the first time in his life. We are proud to have him on our team and hope to see him continue to grow.
Passage Home is our agency that serves Wake county. Passage Home provides workforce training, homelessness prevention, veteran, and children and youth services. Learn more about them at https://www.passagehome.org/