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Marcos Nunez

At the age of 17, Marcos Nunez's path in life seemed pre-determined. “The lifestyle [I was brought into] was not like normal teenagers'. I knew the job and occupation I was going to have for my future – I didn’t have a choice,” said Marcos.

Well-versed in the ways of the street in Truluck, California, Marcos began to deal and sell drugs as a means of income; education was never his primary focus. While attending the high school in his impoverished community, Marcos struggled with reading and math, but he could master technical skills involving the use of his hands with little to no difficulty. Although Marcos welcomed his diploma, he felt as though it wasn’t earned to his highest potential.  

“When I was 29 years old, I had my first [encounter] with the law. I was arrested and sentenced to 168 months (14 years) in prison for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance,” remarked Marcos.

November 2nd, 2016, was the day Marcos’ life began to turn right side up. He was released from prison early after receiving a 2pt reduction on his 168 months sentencing.

“I did 11.5 years in prison, I wanted to relocate just to change my life around and picked Houston, TX to be the start to my new life,” said Marcos. “I was scared at first. I had to get adjusted to being around a lot of people. I used [public transportation] for the first time. I had to [learn how to] ask for help [because] I needed assistance with getting back on my feet and to look for a job.”

Marcos’ justification for not returning back to California and to his family was in part of him not wanting to go back to his old habits and lifestyle – he truly wanted change.

“I said to myself that ‘If I get myself in trouble in Houston, it’s because I got myself in trouble-- not from the pressure of others’," said Marcos. "I did not want to fall into the same trance again and end up like was before.”

Standing on his own two feet was Marcos’ only goal.

“I had to close doors on close family and friends. Me moving [to Houston] caused a lot of friction in my family, but I had to do this for me [and my recovery],” remarked Marcos. “I never worked for [anyone] in my life -- I was putting in job application after job application. I went on 8 interviews and 2 were denied because of my back history. The other [interviews] were [denied] because I didn’t have any [work experience].”

Marcos found a SER business card one day on the side of a dumpster and decided to research and contact the company for help.

“I called the number on the business card for SER and asked what they did; I was hoping that they could help me,” said Marcos.

After speaking with SER’s navigator, Marcos went in to SER’s location and filled out the application for job training and employment services.

By January 2017, Marcos started the Warehouse Forklift Certification training.

“I hesitated to start SER because I’ve been let down so much before -- but one more [rejection] couldn’t hurt,” said Marcos.

“I went through hell for that Forklift Certification. [One day] I had walked from Downtown (Minute Maid Park) to [SER] because the train wasn’t running [that] Wednesday: it was raining so much that the buses weren’t even running. So, I walked all the way to SER just to get this Warehouse Forklift Certification – I didn’t give up,” exclaimed Marcos. “A week later I [graduated] and received my certification -- I went to a job fair right after [graduation] at the Houston Food Bank. [At that time] I didn’t get [any leads]. I [continued] to put in more applications and still nothing. [One day], I called Felicia, SER’s Workforce Development Lead, for help."

In that present time, Felicia was developing a relationship with a new employer partner, Showcase Windows, and was able to assist Marcos in setting up an interview with the company.

“After speaking with Felicia, she called me back the same day to tell me that I have an interview for tomorrow at 11am with Showcase Windows,” said Marcos. “I did the interview [the next day] and 45 minutes [after I left their office], I received a call back and was offered a position as a Window Wrapper: my first day was February 26, 2017.  I started off just wrapping windows, then I moved up to glazing. I received my promotion within months of being hired: I got a dollar [per hour] raise."

Reflecting on his lifestyle before incarceration, Marcos was very humbled to learn the value of heavy labor and dedication.

“I got my first paycheck [from showcase windows] and it was $387. I laughed to myself because I use to leave this for tips at bars and clubs as a [thank you for great service]. Now, I know what it cost to work for this money," said Marcos. "This was my first check I’ve ever earned from someone else in my whole life. I felt good to know that I was doing this on my own."

As a requirement after being released from prison, former inmates sometimes go through a federal work release programs to help them re-integrate into society after incarceration: but none compared to the trainings and job readiness programs SER offered Marcos.

“I went through the City of Houston’s program – I learned a few things, but not like at SER, you know,” stated Marcos. “Getting straight out of prison, [SER] was the first company to actually open up their heart, their skills, and services to me. SER made me like there was hope -- I felt like [my life] wasn’t over because I went to prison.”

Being estranged from his core family and on the right path to self-sufficiency, Marcos has found a home within SER. On his own accord, Marcos continues to check in weekly with a few of the SER staff employees that have helped him along the way to provide them with updates on his progress and struggles he may be facing.

When Marcos is able to find the perfect work-life balance, he plans on enrolling in SER’s Welding training course for additional work skills and greater employment opportunities. Along with speaking with SER’s financial coaches to help him with spending habits and being able to balance his budget, Marcos plans to save up enough of his earnings to afford his own apartment, reliable transportation, and eventually put himself through a trade course to become a heavy equipment operator.

“If anyone asks me ‘how did I get on my feet?’ I tell them to go talk to SER and here is the number,” said Marcos. “I wouldn’t be here today, if I wasn’t for SER -- especially [due to the assistance of] Felicia Hines and Antoinette Taylor [SER Career Coach]. I personally thank SER and [they] will always be a part of my life.”