ROCKVILLE, Md., May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After serving almost two decades in prison, J. Jondhi Harrell is an outspoken advocate for individuals who were formerly incarcerated as they rejoin their communities. He began mentoring others while still in prison and, upon his release, received help from Goodwill® to find a job helping people with criminal backgrounds. He then formed a nonprofit to carry on this work. For making a difference in the lives of others who've shared similar challenges, Goodwill Industries International named Harrell its 2013 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year.
When Harrell was released from prison, he enrolled in the Re-Entry Program at Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia (Maple Shade, NJ) for people with criminal backgrounds. While in the program, he used transitional employment with Goodwill as a stepping stone to other work. He also earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Phoenix and is currently working toward a master's in social work at Temple University.
When he's not studying, Harrell divides his time between working as a service coordinator at Pathways to Housing PA in Philadelphia and running his own nonprofit, The Center for Returning Citizens, that helps people with criminal backgrounds find work, housing and other supports. Harrell is a tireless advocate for those who've had similar experiences to his own, and he's a confident public speaker, spreading the word to policy makers, the media and the public about the need for a continuum of services for this population.
"For people coming out of prisons and jails, it takes more than a strong desire to be relevant in today's workplace. It takes a well-integrated system of services and someone willing to hire people with criminal backgrounds," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "J. Harrell is an individual who turned his life around and is paying it forward by helping others."
Harrell redirects the praise he receives to those around him, saying his accomplishments would not have been possible without Goodwill's help. "I am proud to be a part of the Goodwill family. The Goodwill model for assisting former prisoners should be adopted across the country. Recidivism rates would fall, families would be reunited and communities would be stronger."
Harrell will receive his award at Goodwill's annual Delegate Assembly meeting in Grand Rapids, MI, this June.
Goodwill Industries International's Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year Award honors an outstanding person for completing a Goodwill Industries® career program and becoming competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in the community. The award was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Kenneth Shaw's significant contributions to the Goodwill movement over a four-decade period.
About Goodwill Industries International:
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of America's top 25 most inspiring companies (Forbes). Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,800 stores and online at shopgoodwill.com. Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2012, more than 4.2 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at locator.goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl or @GoodwillCapHill, or find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.
SOURCE Goodwill Industries International