Our client, Lamont, stopped by to share the great news that he recently found employment as a manager in the shipping and receiving department at a warehouse. He participated in our NJ BUILD program, where he received training on how to use the machinery required for his job. Some of the machines include a cherrypicker, ride-on power jack, sit-down forklift, reach lift, and scissor lift.
“I love my job,” he said. “The program helped me with my resume, which got me in the door.” Through NJ BUILD, he became OSHA certified and was able to add this to his resume, making him a competitive candidate. “NJ BUILD also taught me to cooperate as a team and go forth from there,” he said. Thank you to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Project Impact for their partnership and support.
We would be honored if you would join with us at the Grand Opening of our client Candido Ortiz’s new restaurant, El Sabor Del Cafe, on Tuesday, December 19, at 11 a.m. The restaurant is located at 31 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.Pictured above are Candido (right) and JCETP case manager, Rev. Bolivar Flores. Below please find Candido’s personal narrative, as well as a video story about him.
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Candido Ortiz Biography
Candido Ortiz was sentenced to 49 years and six months, he commenced his incarceration in January 1990, and was released pursuant to federal clemency by President Obama in December 2016, as part of an ongoing effort to release prisoners with disproportionately harsh sentences.
While in prison, he enrolled in cooking classes, earning several culinary certifications and soon becoming head cook. In this role, he prepared meals for 1,500 to 2,500 prisoners daily and managed a team of 20 people in the kitchen. Candido believes that his dedication to learning and cooking is what led him to be released 18 years early. Candido’s incarceration also led him to receive a call from God. He became an avid reader of the bible and participated in bible studies with different pastors.
The same month that Candido was released from prison, he enrolled our NJRC/JCETP program, where clients receive addiction treatment, structured sober housing, job training and employment, linkage to legal services and healthcare, and spiritual mentoring. After orientation, clients traditionally receive case management services for a six to nine-month period.
Within a week of completing orientation, Candido was employed as a cook at the Light Rail Café in Jersey City. Having benefitted from our program, Candido says he has already recommended it to others.
Candido continued to seek out his spirituality after his incarceration. He joined a local ministry called Ministerio el Sol Sale Para Todos Internacional, where he was ordained as a reverend. Prior to being ordained, Candido completed three months of intensive training through the ministry. Today, he helps people who are struggling by providing spiritual guidance and referrals to us and other social services.
Most recently, Candido accomplished one of his longtime goals: he opened his own restaurant, where he is the head chef. Located at 31 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Jersey City, it is called El Sabor Del Café. The restaurant features Spanish, American, and international cuisine and offers a la carte, catering, and delivery options.
“Cooking is my life, and I put love into everything I prepare,” Candido said. From the menu, Candido’s top recommendations are the chicken alfredo, shrimp alfredo, and chicken scampi.
Our new client, Austin, is keeping busy with several positive things on his plate. He is enrolled in the National Career Institute (NCI)’s HVAC training program and also got a new job as a dishwasher, which provides room for growth, along with the schedule flexibility needed to attend classes. Additionally, he is in the Army Reserves. “I took advantage of the program’s resources, like the employment search… I found the restoration process for my license to be the most helpful. I had tickets that I was unaware of, and the program is helping me to get them cleared.” If he could tell other people in his position one thing, he would say, “Don’t be discouraged. Put in the effort and the time to do what you need to do. If you’re determined, goal-oriented, and can commit to one week, this program will benefit you in the long run.”
Our new client, Ricky, stopped in to share that he just got a job as a kitchen worker and cook at a popular restaurant chain. His first day of work was on his birthday! On top of that, he is pursuing a career as a personal trainer and is enrolled in online classes to earn his certification. “I feel like I can regain stature back in this world; I’m back as a prominent, productive citizen,” Ricky said. When it comes to our reentry program, he added, “I learned a lot, and it helped me financially by helping me to find employment, it helped with my credentials and ID, my living situation, and with medical. It’s beautiful.”