Somewhere along a tumultuous and redeeming life path consisting of residential burglaries, a 5 ½-year prison sentence and a successful assimilation back into society, Keone found himself and Seattle Goodwill.
Today Keone has built a sterling reputation as a hard worker and standout manager at the signs and barricade company he works for. But earning a family-living wage as a productive member of society wasn’t always Keone’s way.
“What got me in was I was a drug addict doing all the things that come with being a drug addict—robbing, stealing, doing underhanded stuff. I wasn’t always like that. I just got hooked on drugs and then everything else went with it.”
Keone alienated the people he cared about, lost his friends, his family and felt like he had nothing to lose when he began making the decisions that landed him at the Monroe Correctional Facility for more than half a decade.
Although Keone had made some poor choices, he hadn’t always been that way, and two years into his sentence, with the urging of his grandmother and grandfather, he became determined to turn his life around.
“I thought, ‘All right, let’s get a GED. Let’s go get this done,’” Keone said. “I didn’t really make a list. I just knew in my head to get this and this and this done. I just got everything done there that they offered. Then I moved facilities to the camp where I could go outside and work.”
That’s where Keone found solace in wastewater treatment. Determined to make a life for himself upon his release and playing off his previous work as a pipe layer, Keone immersed himself in learning everything wastewater. He obtained books and began teaching class sessions to 30-40 inmates every six months. He even got certified through the Washington State Department of Ecology.
But with months before his release, Keone found one more beneficial course that would ensure he was prepared for integration back into society. He decided to take Goodwill’s New Connections class, which prepares inmates for a successful transition into the job market.
“It gave me another perspective to look at,” said Keone of New Connections. “I’m looking at it like I’m getting out with a one-track mind like, ‘I got to make money, I got to do good.’ Another perspective comes in. It’s not my perspective or my family’s, it’s a perspective of someone who is actually like, ‘Look, this is what employers are looking for.’”
Keone was determined to change his life when he joined Goodwill’s New Connections class, but the program made him think how he was going to accomplish that.
“The overlying thing was just that somebody else cared,” he said. “Someone else is coming in here and volunteering their time and care enough to help others along.”
And Keone was able to pay that thinking forward when he recently hosted a hiring event at South Everett’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center. Since leaving prison he joined his fiancé’s fathers’ company and works as a successful sales manager.
“I want to give somebody a shot that nobody else will give a shot to,” Keone said. “So I feel like if I’m in the position to give somebody a shot that somebody gave me, I feel like it’s my duty.”