It takes a child to make a father. It takes a job to make a man.

Catching up with 2013 REDF Step-Up Award Winner Patrick Carroll

Four years ago Patrick Carroll was in prison, serving the last years of an eight year sentence. Three years ago he was hired by Chrysalis Enterprises, a REDF supported social enterprise designed to provide on-the-job skills training.  While there, Patrick got the experience and guidance he needed to land a job as a building manager in the Skid Row Housing Trust portfolio of properties in downtown Los Angeles. One year ago, Patrick won REDF’s 2013 Stuart G. Moldaw Step-Up Award. This year, when his daughter graduates with a degree in sociology from Cal State East Bay, no one will be prouder than Patrick.

These achievements make Father’s Day a natural time for him to reflect on how his relationship with his family has improved since their early years together. “I was selfish. It was all about me. I thought my incarceration hurt me,” Carroll says, “but it really hurt my family. Every kid needs a father’s guidance. I cheated my kids out of theirs.”

Looking back on his time in prison, Carroll remembers men in their 50s and 60s who he says, “treated prison like a revolving door, in out, in out. I saw them walking the exercise yard, grey haired, using canes. I knew I could all too easily end up just like them, but I didn’t want that.”

“Back then I wondered how it would feel to give fatherly advice. To see my daughter walk across the stage and get her diploma is part of what it means to become a real man, a father, and a father figure in the family. You provide guidance, advice, and support. It means so much to a man.”

Carroll is quick to give credit to Chrysalis and REDF for helping him rebuild his life. “Giving a man or woman a job makes all the difference in the world to that person. Chrysalis and REDF were my path to employment. But it took determination, and not taking failure as an option to succeed in this job.”

As manager of the Star Apartments, a 102-unit building that provides supportive housing to people in the heart of Los Angeles’ skid row, Carroll also acts as an informal case manager, dealing with people one on one, listening to them, and providing a sense that they have somewhere they belong.

According to Patrick’s boss, Robert Newman, Property Management Supervisor for several of the 24 buildings in the Skid Row Housing Trust, Patrick had “The eye of the tiger. He was ready to turn his life around and make a difference. He had a great work ethic, good communications skills, and an eagerness to learn.”

What’s exciting about this partnership with Chrysalis, Newman says, is “to see someone like Patrick reach out for the resources they need to succeed. He’s stayed focused, stable, and he’s been able to rebuild a relationship with his family.”

For Carroll his job is about much more than a paycheck.  It represents an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of his family members and in his community. “Six years ago,” Carroll says. “I never pictured myself helping someone. But when you see the smile on the face of new resident—that shows you the impact you make. That’s my reward.”

Patrick Carroll got a second chance to be a part of his family and a productive member of his community. Every day he goes to work, he’s a living example to his daughter of the transformative power of a job. You can support REDF, and people like Patrick by making a contribution to REDF so we can help social enterprises continue to transform lives by offering more second chances.