Vanguards of new beginnings

Anthony Javier Díaz Nazario.

He was ready. Anthony Javier Díaz Nazario was ready to make a change when his probation officer told him about our Affiliate One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico’s program Paving New Paths to Success (PNPTS).

“When he arrived at One Stop, Anthony was finishing his associate’s degree,” Anthony’s PNPTS case manager, Jessica Milanés Romero, explains in Spanish. “From the very beginning, he was a polite young man, always paying attention to the workshops, always responsible, and never missing a class.”

Many of the nearly 450 participants in this program don’t have the tools or support to move on with their lives after involvement in the justice system. UnidosUS recognized this need, and developed its Reentry Initiative, supporting One Stop, as well as ConXión to Community and Youth Policy Institute in California, to work with justice-involved young adults ages 18–24 to help them access education and training that leads to gainful employment and reintegrating into their communities.

One Stop Career Center of Puerto Rico staff members.

Funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, PNPTS has seven phases, from recruitment to employment.  Approximately a two-month process, case managers prepare participants for success in the workforce, provide basic supports, and make connections to rehabilitation programs and legal assistance.

A particularly transformative step are the workshops Destrezas de vida, where participants learn to manage conflict and interpersonal relationships, which Anthony loved: “They are a subject that everyone should know,” he recalls in Spanish, “how to manage a situation with a colleague, friend, family member, or with anyone! It has truly helped me in my personal and professional life.”

“Many of these young people have a lot of internal personal issues that these workshops help them work through, feel more comfortable, and loosen that resentment they have,” Milanés Romero explains.

One Stop’s programs focus on developing people holistically, including fitness and skills like CPR training.

The workshops are followed by job training and job placement. “Little by little, One Stop was helping me apply to different companies, exploring work options,” Anthony continues. He went to three different interviews, then joined a meal preparation company as a delivery person, and has been growing into new responsibilities ever since.

He won’t give up. Anthony wants to continue learning new skills and he wants to own his own business. “It’s about doing your part. If you don’t have the urge to move forward, organize yourself, and have a good future, you’re not going to do anything,” Anthony emphasizes. And that is precisely what Milanés Romero says to all her participants: Comprométete y echa pa’lante. Engage and move forward.

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