When Juaquin Mobley talks to people looking for a second chance after being incarcerated, he speaks from experience.
A formerly incarcerated person who fell off the path to success, he has risen to become a successful entrepreneur and vice president of CommunityWorks, where he helps people who have returned to society or who are facing obstacles to find their way by building career and life skills.
Mobley started as a volunteer with the nonprofit organization in 2015, teaching résumé-writing classes and giving out cell phones to people who couldn’t afford them. Two years later, be became a case manager and later a site director; he helped expand CommunityWorks in Colorado to four sites.
His current job entails directing the organization’s programs and earned income strategy.
Mobley grew up in Colorado Springs and New York City where, he said, he knew a lot of people who were or had been in prison.
“I often would reflect on what led us to that lifestyle or into that position,” he said, “and I kept coming across the same issue, which was lack of opportunity. A lot of us have a lot of ambition, and as a result of that, we look to what’s close in proximity, to use that ambition. And unfortunately, it plays out wrong for a lot of us.
“So what I wanted to do with CommunityWorks, while providing a second chance to the formerly incarcerated, I wanted to give them an opportunity to create something for themselves.”
Mobley started several businesses that hire CommunityWorks participants so they can earn while they learn.
The businesses, which include The Community Tree Service and asphalt service company American Seal Coat, provide services for local customers and teach CommunityWorks participants the skills they need to succeed in their chosen career or to create their own business.
It’s a program that works — the recidivism rate for CommunityWorks participants is only 2 percent, and nearly 170 people have turned their lives around through the organization’s programs.
“We’re getting people jobs and restoring dignity back in our community,” Mobley said. “What we’re doing in the southeast part of town, we’ve replicated across Colorado.”
Mobley said his own incarceration came about because he believed he did not have any other opportunities.
“I didn’t feel like I had an ecosystem of support,” he said. “So I resorted to making a very brash and wrong decision to get involved in the life of crime. What came from that was, instead of hastening to decisions, I learned to think them through. And more importantly, that whole situation taught me how to be resilient.”
The father of three girls, Mobley said being a husband and father is his greatest personal accomplishment.
“They’re my biggest supporters,” he said.
Professionally, his goal is to provide more opportunities for the people CommunityWorks serves by opening more businesses to employ them.
His nominator, Cory Arcarese, said Mobley is a community leader who “works tirelessly to help others in our community to get a fighting chance to thrive. … He brings up everyone around him. He expects excellence of himself and those who work with him.”