Ex-Offenders Get Help Landing Jobs

STRATE Provides Education, Counseling, Training

At a time when competition is fierce for even once less-desirable jobs, a Denver area program is helping ex-offenders get back on their feet.

The Road Called STRATE program is run out of Aurora. STRATE stands for Society's True Rehabilitative Attitude Towards Ex-Offenders.

Among those taking part in the program is Denise Wilder. She's on probation after being released from jail in October on a drug possession charge.

"I have a very different outlook on life," Wilder said.

At her lowest point, the mother of three was homeless. She's now unemployed but volunteering her time with STRATE and taking courses with the program. It's all in an effort of creating a better life.

"I need to grow up and take responsibility for my own actions and change my life, and that's what I'm doing," said Wilder.

The goal of the STRATE program is to help former convicts get jobs and become productive citizens.

Director and founder James Thomas came up with the idea while serving time in prison for two felonies more than eight years ago.

"A lot of people get tired of that life," Thomas told 7NEWS.

Thomas said God spoke to him in prison and gave him the idea for the program.

The program currently offers several services including counseling, education and job training for newly released felons. Thomas said it's important to address all of those aspects, especially since people who take part in the program admittedly have the odds stacked against them.

"We have to continue to supply hope and direction," said Thomas. "Those are the things that these people have very little of."

Last year STRATE helped about 10,000 people. Wilder is determined to create a better life for herself and her three children in 2009.

"I used to live for everybody else; now I live for myself," Wilder said.

To learn more about the program, go to TheRoadCalledStrate.com.

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