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WSD Success Story: Safety manager, former resident returns to prison to encourage job-readiness

"I have been out of prison for five years, and it makes it a very emotional day to come back: the sights, the smells and the tattoos," Johnathan Granados tells residents during his visit to a Texas prison facility. Granados was invited to share information about his experience and employment preparation at a Windham School District (WSD) Career Expo. Since his release, Granados has been working with Yantis, a San Antonio construction and land company, and he is one of several businessmen and women participating in a Career Expo at Dominguez State Jail.

"Yantis helps build homes," he says. "Other people come in and knock down the trees, and our utility crew comes in and completes all the underground plumbing and pipe fixtures, laying down all the concrete reinforcements. We manage trucking and transportation services as an important part of this enterprise, and we do utilities, concrete, structural and asphalt work.

"I am the Yantis safety manager and insurance claims controller," he says. "When we have a robbery, theft, accident or injury, I process the situation and get the guy to the hospital. I make sure they get the right medical treatment, and I investigate the accident or incident and report it. I may also process incoming or outgoing insurance claims.

Granados's willingness to work for success is a complete turnaround from his 1993 mindset. At age 21, he was incarcerated, angry, and intent on hurting others. Fortunately, a fellow resident gave him the advice he needed.

"I just couldn't stop being stupid," he recalls. "The anger was still roiling inside of me until my homie told me to go to school and get an education. So finally, I got my GED, took any classes that were offered and got into the craft shop." He soon became the mentor telling younger men to get over their anger, and he credits WSD's Cognitive Intervention and CHANGES programs for getting his attention.

"They teach us to stop and think, to analyze and be cautious," he says. "Everything these teachers tell you is very useful, and at some point you are going to ask, 'Is this going to meet my needs?' That idea may seem unrealistic at the time, but you will remember it. "

Granados used academics, behavioral change classes and job training programs to help him transition from 17 years of incarceration to employment and a clean life.

"I wanted to do something legitimate," he says. "I got out on Sept. 1 of 2010 after being locked up in 1993. I first found a job with a company that was willing to hire me and accept me."

Granados was hired for his first job at another company, but soon transferred to employment with Yantis. Now, he owns his own home and vehicle, bought with "my own money, not drug money; nothing illegal, but bought with the money I earned first with the shovel, and then with my intellect, brain, passion and drive. Now I'm a family man blessed with a beautiful wife and children." However, Granados remembers exactly what it means to be a new ex-convict.

"It means different things to different people, and it can mean cheater, liar, criminal, deviant and failure. What are really needed to succeed are initiative, drive and will power. You will have plenty of setbacks and get kicked in the teeth, but you have to hang in there."

Today Granados is an OSHA outreach trainer, busy working on earning a bachelor's degree, a Certified Safety Health Official Certificate and the Certified Erosion, Sediment and Storm Water Inspector's Certification. He is focused on building a new life and enjoying his family and work.

"My future is staked on the most important thing: change," he says. "This change has to come from within, and it starts now."