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'Second Chance Month' at Goodwill gives fresh start to formerly incarcerated

By Jailen Leavell - WDRB TV

April 19, 2023

LOUISVILLE, KY -- A nonprofit is providing a pathway to new opportunities for people in prison.

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky hosted Second Chance Day at its opportunity center in downtown Louisville on Wednesday.

Ralph Ospalski, a participant of the program, knows life's journey comes with ups and downs.

"I was stuck on some really stupid stuff, got lucky, got arrested for 25 years in prison," Ospalski said.

After returning from that life-changing experience, Ospalski still remembers how challenging it was to start over.

"You will hear a lot of 'no's,' especially coming out of prison," Ospalski said.

He struggled finding opportunities until connecting with Goodwill.

"Goodwill helped me get my first job, helped me write my first resume," Ospalski said. "Supplied my bus passes to get back and forth to my job."

President Joe Biden designed April as second-chance month. On Wednesday, more than 100 people participated in Goodwill's second chance day, offering inmates a one-stop shop.

"Recidivism rate is high in our country so what we try to do is give them a hand up to get out of that circle," said Barnard Baker with Goodwill Industries of Kentucky. "A second chance can mean so many things or it could be an individual who is unemployed and can't find the extra job because they have a criminal past."

According to the Department of Justice, recidivism is measured by criminal acts that resulted in rearrest, reconviction or return to prison with or without a new sentence during a three-year period following the person's release.

The Second Chance Expo featured an expungement clinic, a job fair and gave individuals a chance to engage with those who once walked in their shoes.

"When you don't give us that second chance it only reinforces the idea that we are less than that, we are nothing, this is who we are as humans and somehow the rest of society is better than we are," said Troy McComos, a Goodwill Program participant.

Goodwill plans to hold a similar event at South Louisville Opportunity Center at 6201 Preston Highway on April 25.