Voices From the Lab: A Second Chance

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A photo of Daniel Tovar

Daniel Tovar

At the young age of 22, Daniel Tovar took advantage of an opportunity.  He opened the door of opportunity at Austin Free-Net in May, after being incarcerated for three years in a federal prison.

“God gave me a second chance,” said Daniel. “I was playing around when I was younger and got caught up in fast money and lost track of who I want to be. Prison definitely changed my mindset on life.”

A caseworker at Daniel’s halfway house referred Daniel to Austin Free-Net to help him re-enter society and find a permanent job.  Research suggests that finding employment significantly reduces the likelihood someone will return to prison.  Daniel was already off to a good start.  He earned his GED while in prison and had basic computer skills when he came to The DeWitty Center  to search online for a job opportunity.

As soon as Daniel arrived at the DeWitty Center computer lab, he had two goals in mind.  First, Daniel wanted to update and redesign the resume and cover letter he created in prison. Daniel’s second goal was to find an indoor job at a manufacturing company.

“My Uncle offered me a landscaping position, but I told him I will think about it. I gave myself a deadline of two weeks to find the kind of job I wanted. I didn’t want to work outside again.”

Determined to get his life back on track, Daniel came to The DeWitty Center computer lab every day.  Volunteers and Austin Free-Net (AFN) staff helped him complete a professional resume. He also learned how to set up an email account and strategically search for employment on the Internet. Another important life tool he learned at AFN was the power of helping others.  While he was in the computer lab, he enjoyed helping others who were not familiar with using computers.

“I like helping other people and paying it forward. This place helped me stand on my feet. I am going to tell the other guys at my residence to come to Austin Free-Net.”

A montage photo of keyboard, mouse and world

Austin Free-Net opens doors of opportunity.

After searching every day for a job, Daniel found a position before his self-imposed job search deadline. During his interview, he told the manager about his incarceration and how much he wanted to work. The manager responded that he believed in giving people second chances.  Daniel is now working at night in the warehouse of a local grocery distributor.

What’s ahead for Daniel? When asked this question, Daniel confidently said that he would like to take more computer classes so that he can become more skilled at using a computer. Ultimately, his dream is to attain a Welding Technology Certificate at Austin Community College and work in this profession.

At Austin Free-Net, the door is always open to people who need a second chance at rebuilding their life.  Help us continue to change the lives of people like Daniel by signing up to volunteer or by donating today.

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