When Jeff Faidley joined the CIRCA construction cohort at Fort Des Moines Correctional Facility, he may have been one of the oldest members, but also one of the most determined. “I made up my mind one day: I was going to fly right,” Jeff said. “I have too much to live for to go back to jail.”

During his construction course work, Jeff gained an understanding of the OSHA safety rules, mastered hand-tool skills, and learned the essential functions required for many of the construction-based jobs in our community. “CIRCA gave me opportunity,” Jeff said. “Basically, they paid me to go to class for six weeks, and that took a lot of pressure off of me.”

Central Iowans Returning Citizens Achieve, or CIRCA, launched in 2018 as a Central Iowa Works project supporting Central Iowans returning from prison. CIRCA aims to reduce the number of returning citizens who commit another crime to less than 20 percent by supporting education, training, personal development, legal issues, and connecting them with employers in need of skilled employees.

Jeff’s parole officer encouraged him to find a job as soon as possible after his course graduation. Landing a job would give him something to look forward to, a steady income, and released from Fort Des Moines. Jeff was able to secure a job at Katecho earning $9 per hour. He saved the money he earned to pay his rent at Fort Des Moines and buy a car. Once Jeff was working and satisfying the requirements of his parole, he worked closely with his CIRCA case manager, Julianna, to start working on his personal goals. Goal number one was to find higher paying employment.

Julianna and Jeff worked together to send out resumes that highlighted his skills and experience, which lead to several interviews. Even when rejected for his criminal history, Jeff never gave up. Within two months, Jeff was hired at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) as a material handler earning $17 per hour with full benefits.

“I’ve learned a lot of valuable stuff [from my experience with CIRCA],” Jeff said. “They helped me get a great job, and now I’m doing well.” When Jeff was released from Fort Des Moines, he was able to live with his daughter and family for support as he continued to save, work hard and create a plan for his future. Ultimately, Jeff was able to buy his own house.

With the financial and emotional support of CIRCA and a strong personal work ethic, Jeff is in training for a promotion to machine operator. Within a few months it’s his hope to be promoted and continue to increase his skill and earnings with ADM throughout the remainder of his career.

Topics: Income, Story, CIRCA

Sara Engelhart

Written by Sara Engelhart

Sara Engelhart is United Way of Central Iowa's former Strategic Communications Operations Manager.