Local

Operation New Hope connects previously incarcerated men and women with employers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With various industries across Florida experiencing labor shortages, local nonprofits are working to fill those gaps while giving men and women a second chance at life.

“Obviously we were having some difficulties staffing, with everything that’s been going on amongst COVID,” Flying W Plastics employee Nicholas Dent said.

West Virginia-based manufacturer Flying W Plastics has only been in Jacksonville for a year and a half.

In that short time, company officials said they were able to fully staff their business, which includes about 70 positions.

However, it wasn’t an easy feat and they didn’t do it alone.

“Our retention in our industry is not stellar by any stretch, and since we’ve started dealing with Operation New Hope, it’s ten-fold,” Dent said.

Operation New Hope is a nonprofit that provides life and job skills training for people with a history of involvement with the criminal justice system.

“This year we’re going to serve close to 500 clients. Over the course of our service, we’ve served over 8,000 clients,” Operation New Hope Director of Marketing and Communications Amanda Mahan said.

Operation New Hope helps place them in positions that offer a sustainable quality of life, such as positions at Flying W Plastics.

“Our clients have full-time living wage work. So, it’s a win-win. Business is good and people are changing lives,” Mahan said.

Through its Ready4Work program, Operation New Hope placed 15 workers at Flying W Plastics. It placed even more workers at other businesses around Jacksonville.

Officials said they partner with more than 400 employers.

“Everyone should have an opportunity to have meaningful work, give back to the community, be a taxpayer, be connected,” Mahan said.

Businesses get workers, people get work, and the community gets goods and services.

To learn more about Operation New Hope, click here. (https://operationnewhope.org/)