Hope Conference offers hope and education for former inmates

The Hope Conference was held Friday at Youngstown State Univeristy

The Hope Conference at YSU helps inmates re-enter society.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Getting back into the workforce after serving time in prison can seem daunting. Not only do former inmates have to worry about their criminal record, navigating the employment process can be daunting.

In order to help, Youngstown State University and Youngstown C.I.R.V. (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) hosted the Hope Conference on campus Friday where those who have been incarcerated can get help.

County and state agencies set up tables where clients can get employment information as well as help with license reinstatement, child support guidance, housing, clothing and household needs, emergency shelter, and financial counseling, just to name a few.

Kevin Derilus is ready for a fresh start. He has a criminal record which is a hurdle but not one that can’t be overcome.

“It’s just a bump in the road. I am going to keep going, keep climbing that mountain until I climb to the top,” Derilus said.

Derilus filled out two job applications and was looking into Raphael’s Barber School. He says he wants to succeed because he has people counting on him at home.

“My kids, they push me a lot. I want to give them more than what I had and give them better,” Derilus said.

One big hub at the Hope Conference where clients searched for employment was the Ohio Means Jobs table. There, Clients were able to search a massive database of employment opportunities in the area and apply immediately online.

“It connects people to a number of jobs in our Valley and also they do training and they are here in the computer lab so someone can sit down and get that information taken care of,” said Guy Burney, with C.I.R.V.

Terrance Davis is one client who took advantage of the Ohio Means Jobs station. He was just released from prison after serving an eight year sentence and is looking for work.

“Coming home after eight years it is hard to adjust. In prison everything is taken care of. Just coming out and facing responsibilities and get things in line the way it is supposed to be,” Davis said.

Davis was able to apply for four jobs while he attended the conference, and he says the process is making him feel confident. Burney says that confidence inspires hope, which is a powerful motivator.

“When people lose hope, they make decisions that are not good for their lives. What we are trying to do is make our community safer,” Burney said.

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