Life Success begins at Ascend!
Ricardo was on his way to jail. After his fourth DUI arrest, he simply didn’t believe he had any say in his life. He had a baby on the way, and felt his only choice was to serve his term and return to his job as a janitor – a job he hated. He suffered from depression, which in turn lead him to drink. It became a cycle of anger and self-hatred. He didn’t feel qualified for anything but janitorial work – and it would only get worse as a felon on an ankle monitor. It seemed impossible to him that he could ever support his family with a criminal record.
Under new legislation – AB 109 – Ricardo was allowed one last chance to serve his time at the local level and enter a program. He was directed to Ascend. He joined Ascend’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy curriculum, and gradually his ‘criminal’ mindset was replaced by ‘prosocial’ thinking.
Ricardo attended college, earning straight A’s. He always dreamed of a career as a medical assistant, but never allowed himself to think life success might be possible. We saw what Ricardo didn’t – that he was intelligent and compassionate; the perfect candidate to enter the field of medicine. With his newly earned self-confidence, Ricardo showed tenacity in filling out many applications, and Ascend was right there with him – our attorneys gave him detailed letters of recommendation and invited calls from potential employers. He finally got the job he truly wanted – and loves each day he awakens, knowing his purpose is fulfilled helping others. His personal life is great also – he is happily married and raising his daughter in a stable environment which will enable her to reach her potential.
As part of a major gang, Dedrick was considered an ‘extremely high risk’ offender. Using and selling drugs was a way of life to Dedrick, and the gang was his ‘family’.
In Dedrick’s words:
‘I got caught, which in hindsight I should have seen coming. I was given the option of ankle monitor instead of custody if I agreed to participate in the Ascend program. I figured I’d do my time in the program until I could get out and go back to my life. No way could the instructors understand me, or make me into someone I didn’t want to be.’
‘Slowly, though, something shifted. Not only did the instructors understand me, but they treated me with human respect and dignity. With their help, I was able to see how I could have a real life with my wife and son, instead of a life full of drugs and violence.’
Like many who sell drugs, Dedrick was smart – he was organized, a good judge of others’ behavior, and had excellent analytical skills. He used these skills daily to survive life on the street.
Through the Ascend program, Dedrick learned to approach his life success with a ‘non-criminal’ thought process. He was able to cut ties with his past criminal associates, and forge new relationships with others that were based on healthy respect and compassion. He became so invested in Ascend, when his ankle monitor was finally removed he asked to stay in the class during his probation.
We helped Dedrick enter construction training, a career in which he could use his skills of analytical thinking and problem-solving. The trainers were so impressed with his abilities and earnest desire to achieve they gave him an excellent recommendation for a good job. Dedrick now earns a very good income working full-time in construction and supports his wife and beloved toddler. His old life of drugs, gangs and violence is a fading memory.
In college, Jeff flourished! He’s completed two semesters so far and has earned a 4.0 GPA. He works part time, and is very involved as a positive role-model to his nieces and nephews. Jeff has now mentors other Ascend students to help them lead positive and productive lives.