Getting back on your feet after a brush with the law isn’t easy. But that’s exactly what the RESTORE Project is all about.
Its long name is Reentry Enhanced Services & Training Optimizing Restorative Experiences, and its purpose is to restore positive opportunities and get kids who have been in the juvenile justice system back on track.
To learn how effective the program can be, just ask Robert Fleming, 22, who started with RESTORE in January 2013. “I joined the RESTORE Project to help get myself to a better place,” he said. “Before joining, I did not have much going. I was unemployed and engaging in activities that were not getting me anywhere. I was seeking something to stimulate my mind and restart my engine.”
Robert took advantage of program services such as leadership development and job readiness. He soon landed a part time job at a food truck, which led to an internship with the City of Atlanta’s Summer Food Program, located at the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. Robert’s hard work and dedication in that position helped him secure a full-time position as a Constituent Specialist with the City of Atlanta. In this role, he deals with citizen complaints.
“In retrospect, I am completely floored by the progress I have made, my change in attitude, and overall perspective on life,” said Robert. “From filling out numerous amounts of online apps with no call backs and being arrested, you could not have told me that the opportunities that have been afforded to me were on the horizon. I would not have believed it. In all I have been extremely blessed to have met a phenomenal group of individuals who believed in me when I did not. I am forever indebted to you all in aiding me to turn my life in the right direction. Revealing to me what is possible and what I’m capable of.”
Asked what wisdom he would pass on to his peers and those coming up behind him, Robert didn’t hesitate. “Do not be afraid to be you,” he said. “Stand out in a crowd because everything you are not makes you who you are; be proud of it. Additionally, keep the faith, live with integrity and optimism, and most important, be patient.
“As cliché as this may sound, it all holds true and it will take you further than you could ever imagine.”