After spending 8 years behind bars, Royal Mays faced some significant challenges in order to get his life back on track. But thanks to SER, Royal was paired with an employer willing to give him that second chance, and he hasn’t looked back.
Royal Mays, now 52, was born in Galveston, Texas. “My mom raised me,” says Royal. “My mom was my dad and my mom, you know? I have two sisters and one brother.”
Royal didn’t graduate from high school; he was only able to complete the ninth grade. “I went down a wrong path. I got in trouble. I served a little time. Everything went downhill.” Prior to his incarceration, Royal was a self-servicing mechanic who owned his own mechanic shop in Galveston.
After serving eight years in prison on drug charges, Royal was in desperate need of a second chance. “I was in a halfway-house,” says Royal, “and my counselor introduced me to (SER Workforce Development Lead) Ms. Felicia Hines and another lady I've forgotten her name. They worked with me real good. They stuck with me. They listened. I told them I had a little problem, a reading problem, and they really just got on my side and helped me out a lot.”
Royal was enrolled into the SER Reintegration of Ex-Offenders (RExO) program in March 2014. He could not read or write to complete his forms. Felicia Hines not only assisted him with completing his enrollment forms, but she worked with him to find employment opportunities. The challenges were clear: Royal had a criminal background, and he didn’t have a high school diploma. “It was a huge barrier and it was scary,” Royal said.
Eventually, Felicia came across a family-owned business that was willing to give Royal a chance. He was hired on a temporary basis starting out at $15 per-hour. Felicia conducted several site visits to ensure that Royal was doing well and that the employer was satisfied with his work. By her third visit, the employer informed Felicia that they were so pleased with Royal’s work that he had received a raise, and he had his own area inside the repair shop.
“SER is real good at working with you,” says Royal. “Because they not only find you a job, they sit down and talk to you; they give you good options. They helped me out when I needed stuff for my job. They gave me vouchers to go to the stores. They helped me out a lot.”
His struggles a thing of the past, Royal looks to the future with optimism. “I got back up,” he says. “I got myself together. I never went back to Galveston. I got together with a good woman, got married. Once you find somebody by your side who you can trust, you’ve got nothing to hide. You just don’t know how far that goes. I'm reaching my goals now. I want to get me a shop; get me a garage. It's getting nearer and nearer every day.”