Roadrunner Food Bank: Program for fathers with criminal records helps with efficiency

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Participants say it’s a program for men who’ve made mistakes in their lives, an opportunity for fathers who want to be in their children’s lives. Fathers Building Futures recently had an anniversary, celebrating one year of helping dads recently released from jail or prison.

KRQE News 13 spoke to men currently involved in the program and one who’s already been through it. They say it’s an awful feeling to get out of prison, unable to get a job because they have a felony record. Yet, they say Fathers Building Futures gives them the job skills and training they need to get on the road to being a productive member of society and a great dad.

“My son. He’s a little rambunctious 5-year-old. He’s into Karate right now. He loves me, loves spending time with me. Things are good. Things are really good right now,” said Vincent Aragon.

Yet, things weren’t always so good for Aragon. He used to be in and out of jail and in and out of his children’s lives. That all changed when he became a part of Fathers Building Futures, a program to help felon fathers get back on their feet through job training and placement.

“I’ve gone from being a convict with no chance of getting a decent job, no chance of anything to now I’m a respectable person,” Aragon said.

Here’s how the program works, PB and J family services sets up qualified candidates with a paid training program at Roadrunner Food Bank. The food bank teaches them how to work, either in a warehouse or driving a truck. Once they complete the internship, Roadrunner helps them get jobs, either with them or someone else. Yet, Roadrunner says it’s not just about helping dads stay out of prison, it’s also about efficiency.

“It helps me spread my dollars that I have for head count across more people,” said Roadrunner COO Teresa Johansen.

Johansen says it’s now six cents a pound cheaper to move food. She says the further they can spread donor dollars, the more people they can serve and it’s all while helping families get out of poverty,

“You’re giving an opportunity to change a family tree and that kind of impact is immeasurable as far as I’m concerned. I mean that’s just fantastic that we can do that with the same dollars that would have been given to us anyway,” Johansen said.

Jonathon Padilla-Mora has already taken advantage of his opportunity. He’s been through the program and now has a job at Coremark.

“I love it. I love this atmosphere is wonderful. Monday through Friday, 6 to 2:30,” said Padilla-Mora.

Others are just getting started, but already they say they’re seeing a change in their relationships.

“She’s teaching me how to be a dad. I’ve never done it before,” said Father Building Futures participant Larry Aragon. “It’s, how do you say, like a gift from God now.”

Again, these aren’t short-term solutions. Vincent Aragon says he was able to get his commercial drivers license to drive a truck. He says he never would have been able to afford the schooling for it without the program. What’s more, he says he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get the six months to a year of experience he needed to get a job.

Program organizers say of 34 participants, 18 of them got jobs and only three went back to prison. In fact, they say they have a recidivism rate of less than 21-percent. The state average is more than 46-percent.

For more information about the program, click here.

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