Posted By: DreamingCode Admin

Before entering this facility, I had never sewn a day in my life, well, not with a sewing machine. I did however one time attempt hand stitching a silk shirt that I designed and cut out of an old sheet when I was 15 years old. The attempt was cute but absolutely not a success. My journey with OCE began as a volunteer making face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. It turns out sewing is a skill that came easily to me. Soon after, I was a successful applicant for a full time OCE position on the Watershed project (a company that made PPE gowns and head covers for hospitals) in which I gained experience in operating a welding press machine. I was soon offered a Section Lead position. As the project wound down, I transferred to the main sewing team. I completely fell in love with sewing when I was given a position on the PIECP team working for a customer who sold place mats, valences, pillows, and more. Eventually, I earned the title of PIECP Projects Lead.

There are many skills that I have acquired through OCE: design, layout, cutting, construction, QC inspector, warehouse, and shipping. I've been trained in inventory, scheduling, maintaining shop travelers, and job tracking. As an added benefit, I have gained exposure to industrial machines while becoming familiar with their maintenance and operations: Consew and Mitsubishi single needles, Juki serger, Juki double needle, WMC, and an Avance' embroidery machine, just to name a few. More so, I've obtained leadership and team building skills.

My newly found self-confidence started with my supervisors pushing me to recognize my full potential, plus standing by my side and guiding me when I experienced self-doubt. I've learned about the importance of structure, organization, and understanding individuals' needs when leading a team. I've learned how to communicate amongst all personality types, finding what works best for each individual, even when learning curves present themselves. Two of my greatest achievements are earning my OCE Commercial Textiles Certificate, along with becoming the Facilitator of the certification program.

Professionally, I am now equipped with many skills and sets of tools that will aid in securing employment upon my release from DOC custody. With my experience in developing healthy professional relationships with my supervisors, I know that sharing ideas, opinions, and thoughts have the potential to benefit any company. I am confident in sharing thoughts that will draw in revenue; and I can utilize each crew member effectively based on their strengths to advance the performance of each position, in turn helping improve flow and reduce costs.

I have been blessed to have spent the last three years working with OCE, having advancement opportunities from day one. As of today, my title is Shop Lead. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a program and agency that has so much to offer. I have worked with management and Production Coordinators who genuinely care about our success. OCE has helped me become financially stable and self-sufficient, making it possible to extend support to my family when needed.

OCE provides an environment where individuals thrive and resilience develops. That in itself is a powerful fuel that feeds life into someone who once was destructive. The opportunities that each OCE program offers to incarcerated adults is admirable and provides a purpose for those of us seeking a positive change in life. OCE helps pave the way for a successful release, ultimately reducing the risks of recidivism. The growth I've experienced is tremendous, both on a professional and personal level. My new belief in my ability to succeed will follow me wherever I am led in life.