Antoine Walker is a participant in the Ready, Willing & Working program as a truck driver for the Capitol Riverfront BID Clean Team. As a kid, Antoine acted out a lot. His mother tried everything she could to keep him on a straight path and he wanted nothing to do with it. Like most of his friends, Antoine’s father wasn’t in his life so Antoine figured he could work things out his own without someone telling him what to do.
As a teenager, Antoine got caught up in the thrill of getting high and making fast money by selling drugs. He had been arrested many times, but managed to stay out of prison until 2008, when his destructive behavior spiraled out of control and he was incarcerated for carjacking. He spent two and a half years in prison, desperate to end the cycle of drugs and crime, longing for meaningful employment that would bring him peace of mind. “I wanted to be legit,” Antoine said. “To me, being legit was the impossible dream.”
While in jail, Antoine met an inmate who was talking about getting into a program after leaving. He found out that his fellow inmate was talking about the Ready, Willing & Working program and the operations director was Andrew Lee – Antoine’s cousin! Antoine got in touch with Andrew to find some way he could get into the program after he got out of jail.
Andrew hired Antoine part-time as a casual laborer for the Capitol Hill BID. Andrew had Antoine work on small landscaping projects, mostly because he wanted to make sure he was serious about getting his life back on track. He saw that Antoine was a hard worker, and was able to get him a spot as a member of the BID’s clean team. When RWW began a service maintenance contract with the Capitol Riverfront BID in October 2014, he was promoted as a truck driver for their service area.
While working for the BID, Antoine receives supportive services through Ready, Willing & Working that keep him focused and on the road to self-sufficiency. Being with other men who have gone through the same experiences and struggles that Antoine has been through make him realize that he is not alone. His team members want to see him succeed and become a contributing member of society. “My relationship with the other ‘men in blue’ gives me hope,” Antoine said. “And every day I learn a little more from them.”
Antoine has been a part of the RWW program over three years. Prior to working for the BID, he said he was lucky if he could keep a job for three months. “I now contribute to society instead of being removed from it, “Antoine said. “I am able to live a life without crime and drugs. I am able to provide for my daughter, my fiancé and her two children. I want to be able to show them that they can be anything they dream of, just as long as it is productive.”
“I am now living what I thought was the impossible dream,” Antoine said. “I’m happy to say that I’m now legit!”