With the 9th CTEC Graduation approaching this Friday, October 25th, 2019, BOSS would like to celebrate graduates of the past who have transitioned their lives through the help of BOSS’s Career Training and Employment Center (CTEC) Program. Three individuals, April Owens, Julius Butler, and John Walker have shown what it means to be a CTEC graduate and the amazing potential that our new graduates will have. Their stories are amazing.
In this first article of a three-part series, we feature April Owens, a mother whose addiction led her down a dark path before coming to BOSS.
After losing her mother in 2017, Oakland-native April Owens turned to alcohol to cope with the pain. Addiction led to a DUI, and after being sentenced to 45 days in jail she had a realization — “this was not the lifestyle I wanted for me or my two kids.”
When April was told that CTEC could help her find work, get off the streets, get her record clean, and pay her at the same time, she was convinced that CTEC was the place to be. After joining CTEC, April worked closely with several case managers to get her record clean, find a job, and boost her self-esteem. Ronald and Shaiid served as mentors to her, giving her powerful advice and motivation to move forward. She is thankful for their help.
“The advocates are amazing. They don’t put blame on you. They don’t judge you. They encourage you,” she says.
April applied for non-profit jobs because they hire offenders. She applied for BOSS, got the interview, and got employed. While at CTEC she also got her record expunged through the Clean State Program, which took her 2-4 months.
April now works as a Program Aide at Casa Maria, BOSS’ interim housing program that serves homeless individuals with persistent mental illness as well as transition-age youth. She loves her work and finds it meaningful, especially because her family members have dealt with mental illness, homelessness, and drug addiction. She thinks back to her mom who died from a drug overdose. “If only she had that opportunity to get help, she might’ve been able to fight for her life.” This gave her motivation to help people who suffer from similar situations.
“Even though they have mental issues, they’re still human beings. They still need an ear. Society is sometimes so quick to label: ‘Oh they’re crazy.’ But if you talk to the clients, they have sense, they are human. I am very grateful.”
April is clean and sober now, and is pursuing an Associate Degree in Communications from Laney College. She wants to be a role model for mothers. One mistake does not dictate who she is. She shows that the judicial system can’t dictate who she is. People can change for the better. “BOSS is amazing,” she said.
In the future, April sees herself writing grants for survivors and advocating for victims of violence and poverty. She would like to regularly attend city hall meetings, get more donations for nonprofits like BOSS, and ultimately help victims of non-violence.
Look out for our another story next week featuring another of our amazing graduates. If you are interested in attending this open-to-the-public graduation, click here to find out more.