Second Chance Month & Employer Spotlight
We Believe in Second Chances
April is Second Chance Month!
SECOND CHANCE EMPLOYER SPOTLIGHT
Did you know that there are an estimated 70 million Americans with arrest or conviction records and that approximately 25,000 of those are released to the Greater Houston Area? A large majority of these people face barriers to reintegration into society and are deemed unemployable. CrossWalk Center has partnered with New Horizons Employment Solutions to help eliminate this barrier by assisting returning citizens to secure employment.
New Horizons Employment Solutions is led by Tom Harris, a retired Colonel with the United States Army. Colonel Harris strives to reduce criminal recidivism by helping returning citizens secure meaningful employment. “Most hiring processes eliminate 85% of ex-offenders before they are even given a chance to compete for a job. I advocate for these men and women so they can get the second chance they deserve. But I also advocate for the employer making sure they hire employees who want to work and that the potential employee’s experience and capabilities match the requirements of the job,” stated Harris.
“One of the companies that I’ve been working with for Second Chance employment is Chefman,” noted Harris. Chefman is a privately-owned company that operates under the parent company, RJ Brands LLC, which started out as a reseller in the back yard of a shed back in 2009. Their founder and CEO, Ralph Newhouse, noticed he was picking up and reselling a lot of appliances and decided to try and build his own brand to sell. Three years later, he discontinued reselling items and put 100% of his time toward building his brand. They now manufacture pretty much everything that plugs in on a countertop…fryers, pressure cookers, blenders, coffee makers, and much more.
In July 2021, Chefman opened a warehouse in Houston because of the Port of Houston’s strong infrastructure. “We currently have 15 people in the Houston warehouse, and I project we’ll double that in the near future,” stated Jason Johnson, Chefman’s Warehouse & Facilities Manager.
Although Jason had no prior experience hiring ex-offenders, he quickly supported the concept when presented by Colonel Harris. Jason believes that if you want people to be productive in society you need to be willing to give them a chance. He never wants to hold someone back who wants to better themselves, and he does not judge them by their past.
“I have learned that sometimes there is a lack of trust after being incarcerated. At Chefman, we try to show each employee that we genuinely care about them. We are willing to invest our time and money into helping them become the best version of themselves. I will say that redirection is needed occasionally, and sometimes they test the limits of generosity, but the men are coachable, possess the right attitude, and give 100% effort,” said Jason.
Chefman is focused on getting their Houston warehouse fully operational, implementing a new warehouse management system, and initiating automation for order filing. The company is growing rapidly, and they are projecting 100% growth over the $100million in sales last year.
In conclusion, Jason shared “CrossWalk is a blessing to Chefman and to the Houston community. The clients of CrossWalk are trying hard to rebuild their lives, and we are proud to be a part of their second chance. If you are thinking about becoming a second chance employer, do it. You won’t regret it!”
Man of the Month Spotlight
Derrick Escobedo was in prison facing a 25-year sentence. Amid confinement and chaos and surrounded by noise and distraction, he heard the voice of God speak to him. By hearing the Lord’s voice, Derrick’s life was radically transformed.
Derrick’s life changed dramatically when his mother was murdered when he was only four years old. His grandmother took him and his five siblings in to live with her. It was an abusive household. When he was fourteen years old, he was turned over to the foster care system and was subsequently rehomed every three months.
At seventeen years old, Derrick was arrested and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. During incarceration, he was introduced to prison gangs…the custodians of order behind bars. He became a member of an organization called Tango Blast which consists of incarcerated Hispanic men from major Texas cities. Tango Blast, and its associated Tango cliques, are the largest and most dangerous gang group in Texas, with an estimated 19,000 members, according to the newest Texas Gang Threat Assessment conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The men of Tango Blast became his family. When he was released to the streets in Fort Worth, he turned to the local Tango Blast street club often referred to as the Foritos or F-Town members. He began dealing drugs and routinely engaging in criminal activity. His behavior led to him being shot, re-arrested, and sentenced to three more years in prison.
After serving his time, Derrick was in a dark place in his life. He was lonely, full of despair and trapped by his past. He acquired a firearm and suicide was his solution. Fortunately, his plan went awry. Derrick was re-arrested for possession and discharging a firearm. He faced up to 25 years in prison. It was during this time in jail that he heard the voice of God speak to him. “God woke me up. He told me that I wasn’t killing the past but only killing my future,” said Derrick.
For twelve months straight, Derrick read the Bible paying close attention to the Gospel of Luke. Derrick shared that he heard God tell him, “I will release you if you do my will. Share the Gospel with your brothers and sisters.” He committed his life to Christ and change began to happen. Derrick was released from Harris County jail with a 12.44(a) which resulted in a felony conviction that will stay on his record for life, but his punishment was reduced to misdemeanor sentencing and counted his one year in jail as time served.
Once again, Derrick was released with nothing and no place to go. But this time he knew he had God the Father on his side. He called a gentleman who he was discipled by in prison. This disciple gave him a place to stay and introduced him to CrossWalk Center.
Derrick was accepted into the CrossWalk program. He resides in a re-entry discipleship home and actively participates in CrossWalk’s Bible Study/Men’s Discipleship Group on a weekly basis. He will be celebrating his six-month graduation from the CWC program soon.
He attends Our House Downtown for church service every Sunday. “Pastor Paul, Carl Sutherland who is my mentor and coach, and all the members of Our House have become family to me. They are all my brothers and sisters in faith,” stated Derrick.
He was also recently baptized and proudly proclaims Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He is living his life by the Great Commission narrative in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20a
Derrick recently earned his Driver’s License and has plans to attend Lonestar College to earn an Associate degree. He is employed by Chefman, one of CWC’s Second Chance Employers, as a forklift operator. “I love my job at Chefman. I’m making an honest living and could not be more thankful for this opportunity. I’m also building my credit score to better the life decisions I’ll need to make in the future,” shared Derrick.
Derrick is a true example of discipleship. He is passionate about evangelizing on the streets and leading people to Christ. “I’m focused on sharing the word of God to make new believers in Jesus,” he said. He is committed to being a faithful servant by living a joyful life, maintaining control over reckless behavior, and proclaiming his love for Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, Derrick shared, “God knows our motives. We need to seek him in everything we do. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will open. He has given us all the same tools and same resources. I’m using mine to expand His kingdom. Question is, what will you do with yours?”
CrossWalk Center Events
What's Happening At CrossWalk Center
CrossWalk Center Welcomes Two New Staff Members
Women's Re-Entry Discipleship Program Director
Chaplain Paula Robinson is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She relocated to Houston in 2006 with her husband of 36 years, Reverend Dr. Dywaine F. Robinson, Sr. They have two grown children, Kaylee and Dywaine Jr., and four granddaughters. They are members of Inspire Church Houston.
Chaplain Robinson is happy to be called “Servant” of the Most High God. She has served alongside her husband in Marriage and Family Ministry for over 32 years. She has ministered to couples all over the country due to her husband’s military career and her 8 years in the military. While deployed with her husband in Germany, Paula was the first African American woman to serve as President of the Protestant Women of the Chapel.
Paula and her husband founded Kingdom Educational Counseling Services (KECS), a tutoring service, in 2010 and Kingdom Life Outreach, Inc., a non-profit Christian Counseling service, in 2021. These ministries are designed to facilitate private, individual, and group sessions to cover a wide range of life skills and topics.
Paula’s passion is prison ministry which she has done intermittently for the past 20 years. Her heart’s desire has always been to minister to women inside of prison on a full-time basis. In February 2022, the Lord opened that door for Paula. She resigned from her position of 15 years as Director of Programs for Houston Center for Independent Living to become Director of CrossWalk Center’s Women’s Re-entry Discipleship Program. She was drawn to this position because she believes in CrossWalk’s faith-based Seamless Re-entry Discipleship model. She feels she will be successful executing the holistic women’s re-entry program with minimal recidivation.
Paula is a Certified Volunteer Chaplain Assistant (CVCA) at Plane State Jail in Dayton, Texas. She serves as a counselor and mentor to inmates, a classroom teacher, and worship service leader on a weekly basis. In July of 2021, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Ministry. She is an Ordained Chaplain and Certified Christian Counselor.
Paula’s motto for 2022 is “Better” which is accomplished by performing the routine routinely well while striving for excellence…because there is no substitute for excellence. Her motivation comes from Mark 9:23, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Her favorite scripture is from Daniel 3:17, “If it be so, Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand O King.” Paul faithfully believes that whatever God leads you to, He will take you through, because if it is His will, it is also His bill.
In her down time, Paula likes to dance with her husband in the spirit of the Lord. She enjoys playing with and spoiling her pampered pup, Rock. Her favorite book is Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Her shero’s are her two grandmothers, Priscilla Harmon and Louise Foreman, both of whom are deceased.
With Paula there is no gray area. It is holiness or hell, hot or cold, saved or not saved. She stands as Joshua before young women and challenges them to “choose you this day whom ye will serve… no man can serve two masters… but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Men's Re-Entry Discipleship Program Director
In addition to a Bachelor of Science, Master’s and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, Ozie recently received a Master’s Ministry Leadership from Bellhaven University. His career in ministry began in 1993 as an elder. He went on to host a weekly cable-television program that aired for 5 years in the Chicago area. He also ministered to incarcerated men and women, youth groups, families, and married couples. He has also led racial reconciliation classes for believers in the greater Houston area. A highlight of his ministry career was leading an 8-day healing crusade in Uganda, Africa.
Ozie was raised a Catholic even though his mother was a Baptist. He learned to celebrate Jesus Christ at an early age and was “born again” when he was 16 years old. Shortly after he was touched by the hand of God, he began attending a Pentecostal Church where he received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and ‘fire’. Ozie’s favorite scripture is “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4,5
In his free time, Ozie enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren, cycling, reading, and working out. He is looking forward to being a vessel in God’s hand to help the men and women at Crosswalk to see and become whom they were meant to be.
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Monthly Giving Program
Become a Friend of CrossWalk
We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you - your energy, your prayers, and your money - in this work to which God has called us.
By joining our Monthly Giving Program, your gift will allow us to take a planned, long-term approach to grow our Seamless Re-Entry Discipleship from the inside out.
Recurring, monthly giving means low administration costs with more of your gift going to where it is needed most...to our returning citizens. We will be able to grow CrossWalk Center's re-entry discipleship ministry, expand our reach, and widen our impact.
The successful re-entry journey begins here!
Thank you for supporting our efforts and helping make a difference.
Intercessory Prayer Requests
God has established His kingdom on earth in such a way that we must ask for help. We ask the Lord for help, and now we're asking you for help. Our men need your prayers, especially as they experience re-entry into society during this ongoing pandemic. Please pray for God to grant our men confidence, peace, security, wisdom, and strength as they journey in freedom. Please keep the men of CrossWalk in your prayers.
Ways to Give
Your Generous Giving Impacts Lives. CrossWalk Center re-entry programs and services, and the generosity of faithful givers like you provide returning citizens a second chance, increases public safety, reduces taxpayer costs, and prevent individuals from returning to a life in prison. Learn more.
“Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.”
- The Beatitudes
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CrossWalk Center, Inc., is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization.