“BUS gave me a chance. They interviewed me on my fifth day after being released, and I started work on my sixth day out”
Austin came to Build Up days after being released from a multi-year sentence. He expressed a desire to dedicate himself to making the necessary changes in his life in efforts to play a larger role in the lives of his children. This included securing stable work so he could pay his bills without having to fall back into his previous gang lifestyle.
Austin was not used to working in a supportive environment. Build Up is currently helping him with the costs associated with getting his license back, as well as, flexing his work days so he can focus on spending time with his children when they are in Saskatoon. “I was paid health and wellness for grieving after losing family members, I wasn’t used to this.”
Austin has taken an active and positive role in his transitional housing complex and has volunteered to be the first participant in a tattoo removal program through the gang prevention/diversion program with Str8 Up Saskatoon.
He also is a speaker through Str8 Up and recently spoke at T’suut’Ina Nation RCMP Training Centre/Detachment in Calgary on bridging the divide between police officers and gang members. Austin has been approached to do additional speaking work for a variety of audiences, including youth, and hopes to turn his messaging into a career where he can help others learn from his experiences.
“If it wasn’t for Build Up, I would have had no choice but to go back to everything I use to do.”
Austin has excellent attendance, shows a willingness to learn and grow, and has taken the opportunity to play a leadership role, both in the program and in the community.