It was Christmas. Alone, homeless, and facing a life of addiction on the street, Jason Cockburn was greeted by a little girl who had been searching for him. She handed him a bag of cookies and her allowance – $75 in quarters she had saved all year.
“She thought of me. Why me?” said Cockburn. Perhaps, this little girl knew he deserved a second chance, along with so many others. “The next morning, I treated everyone to pancakes. I wanted to give back. For the first time, Christmas had meaning for me.”
Everyone deserves a second chance. For more than 70 million Americans with a criminal record – one in three people – those second chances are few and far between. Yet, being allowed to choose a different path can mean survival.
At the Second Chance Foundation, those wanting and needing help will find renewed opportunities. Led by those who have lived experience, individuals are met where they are in their journey and can find a welcoming, caring space.
“We hear people. We listen. We don’t force people to accept recovery or to get higher education,” says Jason Cockburn, co-owner of the Second Chance Foundation. This approach works as more and more homeless, and those formerly incarcerated make their way through the doors of the Foundation. They leave with direction – a way out of living on the streets or being back in prison.
“We are about education, outreach, recovery,” says Cockburn. “We offer clothing, detox, health addiction resources, food and a place to recover.”
With the right mentoring, individuals are encouraged to find education to empower them to get out of their current situations. Since 2016, Cockburn and his partner Kyle Von Stroberg have been determined to have an impact.
“With mentorship, education, scholarships, and support, anyone can change the destructive path of homelessness, incarceration and addiction,” says Cockburn.
“We are currently opening a shelter, so people have a place to go after they recover. We have a network that is nurturing and supportive, so they don’t just recover and then end up back on the street because they have no place to go,” says Cockburn. “When that happens, they fall into old habits.”
How does he understand his clientele so well? It is because he has lived it.
“I was homeless for 25 years, starting when I was just 12 years old,” says Cockburn. “Education changed my life.”
The creation of student clubs, scholarships, and transitional housing supports individuals attending college to remove critical barriers to their success.
The Second Chance Foundation serves a hundred individuals a day. Last winter, they handed out 10,000 sleeping bags and served 3,600 meals. They see roughly 800 people in need a year in detox and have handed out more than 6,500 lbs in coats.
The Foundation currently offers eight scholarships and has 155,000 in scholarship funds. They receive funding from individual donations and commercial sponsors.
To find out how you can make a difference check out their donation page on their website or visit: facebook.com/Second-Chance-Foundation-Scholarship-543393669475906