Trees & Second Chances

Carlos and I planting a tree in Ridgefield, NJ.

I met Carlos in the fall of 2008. He was coming off a stint in state prison and was in Logan Hall, a halfway house in Newark. I was struck by his good attitude and quirky sense of humor. I hired him to work for our Green Streets Program, where we train and pay men under parole supervision to plant trees and construct green infrastructure projects. After a few weeks of planting trees together, Carlos nicknamed me Master Ip after Bruce Lee’s trainer.

Occasionally while working for us a crewman will break a rule at Logan Hall and be pulled off our crew permanently. I hired Carlos to fill in three times when this happened in 2009, 2011, and 2012. Carlos was always the first person I called to step in. He is a reliable, conscientious employee who works above and beyond what is asked of him. I was happy to give him more work opportunities.

After working for us, Carlos was employed full-time for two years. His supervisor thought very highly of Carlos and offered him a permanent position. But the higher-ups said no due to his past record. This is such a common experience for anyone with a criminal history.

I got to work with Carlos again in the spring of 2017 when we hired him as Assistant to the Crew Supervisor (me!) He stepped right into the position, showing leadership skills and teaching the new men how to plant trees the right way. Carlos stayed on through the summer as we built, planted, and maintained rain gardens and our 9/11 Grove of Remembrance. Since no new employment had come up for Carlos, we kept him on through the fall tree planting season. Carlos applied for a new job as our season ended and I hope he gets it.

The temporary jobs we provide through Green Streets combine paid, hands-on work and job skill development to assist parolees in transitioning back into their communities. Your donations help us plant trees and give second chances to men like Carlos. Your support of our work is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

James Cunningham
Green Streets Crew Supervisor & Urban Forestry Technician
NJ Tree Foundation

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