2nd Call founder, Skipp Townsend, found his calling to help ex-offenders while attending a Jim Brown Amer-I-Can workshop. He realized that his own challenging life situations may be shared by others who are trying to escape a cycle of violence. Through this realization, he launched 2nd Call and now offers life skills training in topics including anger management, parenting, and dealing with domestic violence.
2nd Call’s mantra is offering a “second chance at loving life” and through their work and trainings they work with ex-offenders on workforce preparedness. Many of the students that undergo the program and training have come from underserved communities with limited access to education or community services. They work with individuals on healing from traumatic events in their lives that have led to criminal behavior, and changing their mindset to be prepared for gainful employment. Rather than the usual soft skills or educational training, 2nd Call addresses the deeper issues of family or personal pain that may prevent an ex-offender from maintaining employment once they are employed.
Turner Construction sought 2nd Call’s help for construction of the new Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw Medical Offices. 2nd Call hosted a job fair, working with the over 370 individuals they train per week. One such individual that attended the job fair and graduated from the 2nd Call program is Charles Slay. Sentenced to 27 years in prison at the age of 21, Charles participated in the 2nd Call training, which helped him process and resolve previous conflicts and psychological wounds. A grueling yet transformative process, it helped him obtain a mindset of productivity, along with family and community contribution, leading him gain and maintain solid employment. He also received training from the IBEW’s Electrical Training Institute, and worked as an electrician with Turner at the Kaiser Baldwin Hills-Crenshaw site. What was once a neighborhood of violence and destruction for Charles, is now an area where he is contributing to the community.
According to Charles, “I did a lot of damage to the community as a youngster, and now I’m rebuilding the community. I’m proud of that.” Charles is now doing electrical construction at Kaiser’s Woodland Hills project.
2nd Call continues to train individuals like Charles on addressing issues of trauma and violence in their lives. Though their referral rate is low due to the emotionally charged process that enrollees undergo, the lifelong impacts reverberate throughout the communities where they now work, telling successful stories of those that have received a “second chance at loving life”.