Lejon Reese, better known as Fahim, graduated in November from the Green Energy Training Services after being released from prison two months ago.
Green Energy Training Services is a program of the Rising Sun Center for Opportunity. The Strive for Change Foundation has supported Rising Sun since 2010 and recently awarded them a grant of $15,000.
Fahim was born and raised in Richmond, CA and at the age of 19, he was incarcerated. He spent 31 years growing up in prison, trying to understand who he was and how the world would view him after being released.
When Fahim first arrived at Rising Sun, he walked about 2 miles to get there. He was not yet familiar with the bus system and didn’t want to be late. He remembers immediately feeling accepted without judgment, something he feared would not happen easily after being released. But instead his program director told him, “What you did in the past is in the past. You are here now.” That was the moment he understood that Rising Sun cared about people, not numbers.
Green Energy Training Services provides job training, case management and career placement services to low-income adults experiencing barriers to employment. The program provides a pathway for individuals who want to enter the union building trades and pursue a construction career, or learn the skills necessary to enter the solar industry. Services for participants often extend for as many as twelve months after graduation, including ongoing case management and career support services, as well as alumni events and resources.
One of Fahim’s most memorable moments at Rising Sun was the Thanksgiving meal. Every year Rising Sun hosts a gathering where staff and program participants sit at the same table and share food, stories, and gratitude. It was Fahim’s first Thanksgiving since being released from prison. Fahim recalls shedding tears of joy and being overwhelmed with joy and happiness.
Fahim believes that Rising Sun is a place for people who are tired of the same old things and are ready for change, opportunity and growth. His goals after graduation include but are not limited to passing his driver’s license test and joining the Laborers Union.
We are proud to share Fahim’s story. His success shows how the programs our donors support can help people fulfill their potential as members of society. All working people deserve the dignity of financial stability so they can plan a future for themselves and their families.