Chelsey Sirmons faced serious personal barriers, back in 2016, when he was connected with Pittsburgh Community Services, Inc. (PCSI) Chelsey was unemployed, required workforce development assistance, was experiencing traumatic physical & mental health issues, had no means of transportation and did have a criminal record. To help him start recovery from his overwhelming situation, he was immediately introduced to PCSI's Case Management, Re-Entrant Services, Training and Workshops, Workforce and Entrepreneurial Skills Development classes.
"PCSI help me obtain my goals through multiple levels of support, training and resources. When I walked into PCSI, I was tired of my old way of life, and was looking for the opportunity to change. I just was in search of that one something that would allow me to make my poison my medicine," says Chelsey of his PCSI experience.
Chelsey's eyes were opened to skill-building training and support at PCSI that allowed him to:
- learn job readiness skills for interviewing, resume writing & applying.
- connect with employers and locate job opportunities.
- get connected to resources.
- attend training and workshops.
- start a business.
- manage the pardon and expungement process.
He is a model example of someone who has benefited from working with PCSI. He started with the program four years ago as a drug user, drug addict and was even shot with a firearm once. Since starting his personal work with the PCSI staff, Chelsey went through rehab, got his recovery certificate, became a certified Peer Support Counselor, and started his own non-profit to provide counseling services. PCSI helped him get that non-profit business up and going.
"Chelsey is just awesome. He’s a great speaker, and he is driven. He is just really a good guy that benefited from PCSI's help. We worked with him every step of the way," shares A. Odell Richardson, PCSI Executive Director.
Chelsey has used the set of new skills and support he received at PCSA to move forward in life not only self-sufficiently, but with an eye toward giving back to others. He is now a part of the Community Action community itself and the staff at PCSI could not be any prouder of his work ethic.
"Since then, I maintain a life of recovery. I am a CADC, CRS, TSS, GCDF, and Peer Specialist. I have also started a non-profit called Metanoias Inc., to which I am the President/CEO. That business involves Mentee/Mentorship, Culture Competency, Substance Abuse Prevention, Mental Health Awareness, and Advocacy," says Chelsey of his experience working with PCSI.
You made a big batch of lemonade out of those lemons.
Stay tuned next month.
The February CAAP Update Newsletter will include PCSI's success story with the Pardon Project. There are 117 PCSI clients with backgrounds, like Chelsey. Because of the development of the PCSI Pardon Hub, over 50 clients with criminal backgrounds on their records are in the application process for a pardon and expungement. PCSI will share their partners in the community who help by offering employment.
"There are 13 other PCSI clients who also stepped up and took control of their lives. They got and maintained employment despite their backgrounds. Because of our partners in the community, they are all currently working or have a business going," explains A. Odell Richardson, E.D.
A. Odell Richardson, PCSI's Executive Director, recommends other PA Agencies get involved now - to get as many individuals into the process, which can take up to 2 years under the current PA administration - learn why starting "now" is so important.
You will also see links to 22 YouTube educational videos, developed by PCSI Workforce Development's, Kurt Mennitti, which any agency can utilize for clients in the state.