A Kansas woodworking shop is helping felons, the homeless, and recovering addicts get back on their feet by giving them temporary work.
Sun Cedar offers employment opportunities to those who have trouble reentering the workplace, giving them experience and credentials to find work again.
The charitable practice started when a friend of Shine Adams, the founder and CEO, left prison and had trouble finding work.
“When he got out of prison, he called me up and he told me he was having a hard time getting work because of his recent prison experience, so I told him that he could come work for me,” Adams told ABC News. “That’s the beginning of a beautiful story. Then he had me as a reference, and he had some extra confidence when he went out to speak to prospective employers.”
Many released prisoners quickly return to jail because they lack opportunities for stable employment, and often turn to crime for survival. Obtaining that first job can be crucial to avoid that fate.
Sun Cedar has helped around 20 at-risk individuals since the initiative started.
“Most people stay for about 3 months and then that is all they really need on their resume in order to go forward in their life,” Adams said.
Sun Cedar has partnered with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, and offers not just woodworking jobs, but also GED tutoring and a 12-step program.
The current shop superintendent at Sun Cedar was a homeless alcoholic before Adams gave him a job there a year and a half ago, when he couldn’t find a job anywhere else.
“Sun Cedar helped me get out of being homeless. It helped me pay off all of my legal fines,” Abe Weasel, who has a criminal record, told ABC News. “It gave me another chance…Nobody was going to give me a chance at all.”
Sun Cedar has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money so that it can expand its work and counseling program.