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Who hires people with a record?

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Willie Ross Willie Ross
Ross offers jobs at "It's About Time Vegetables and More" at 313 West Broad Ave. opening March 1 Ross offers jobs at "It's About Time Vegetables and More" at 313 West Broad Ave. opening March 1
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

An Albany businessman says he was shocked by the overwhelming turnout of desperate people seeking jobs, when he announced he was willing to hire convicted felons to work in his new business.

Now this community activist is challenging other business owners to give folks with criminal records an opportunity.

Willie Ross offered to hire nine folks out on probation to help him start up his fruit stand in downtown Albany. By Friday morning, more than 200 people had applied. Ross said there is a need in this community. Ross said he was absolutely shocked after our story about his new business, and his offer to hire folks on probation.

 "Over 200 people came to my store in one day. One day. They wanted jobs so bad. I had six of them sleep in front of my house in a car. And I had about 15 sleep on Broad Street [sic] in a car," Ross said.

Daniel Abney was one of those people. He calls it chaos for so many people like him trying to find a steady job.  "Background. Jail. Prison. They have felonies. Can't get expunged. Probably don't have the money to get them expunged. It's very hard in Albany," Abney said.

Ross joined with nonprofit agency Albany Second Chance, challenging community businesses to offer jobs and opportunities to folks with records.

Albany Second Choice CEO, Dr. Charles Ochre said, "That's the key, providing employment. That will keep them from going back to prison."

Sheriff Kevin Sproul said people often end up behind bars in his jail again, because they lose hope. He says jobs will cut the crime rate. "By giving an opportunity to those offenders, to give them hope. To give them something for the future that they don't want to go back in that old life style and re-offend, and go back into the system again."

Ross said his little vegetable stand shows the desperation in the South Georgia community of people with criminal records, looking for a job and a chance. Ross said "I talked with hundreds and hundreds of people. And they don't want to steal. They are tired of breaking in. They just want to live and get their families back."

Ross is challenging business owners to help him, offering jobs to help the community Albany Second Chance is offering assistance to people trying to get their record expunged. You can call them at 883-3440.

 

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