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Hope Starts Here 5k in Jacksonville benefits re-entry programs for people leaving criminal justice system

Operation New Hope is helping people readjust to life after prison -- and keeping them from returning.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For people released from the criminal justice system, re-entry can be difficult both financially and mentally. Operation New Hope aims to ease the process and keep people from falling back into criminal institutions. They held a 5k Saturday morning to raise funds for the programs.

More than 70 million people across the country are facing limited job opportunities because of their criminal past. People Like Ken McCoy.

I had a bachelor’s degree, didn’t think I was going to be able to work back in my field because of the felony," Ken McCoy, current case manager and past program graduate, said. 

Operation New Hope provided McCoy with job training, housing, and even bus fare to help him re-enter the community.

“2015 to now, those 5 or 6 years I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have this operation," McCoy said.

McCoy graduated from the program and now works as a case manager with Operation New Hope. He was one of over 350 participants who took to this course in Springfield for a 5k fundraising event.

Participants like Josh Martino, whose family owns Bono BBQ and is one of more than 400 employers that provide jobs for Operation New hope graduates.

“Who among us has not benefited from a second chance at some point in their lives," Martino said. "It’s a great success giving people that second chance to get a job, re-enter society and get their lives back on track.”

Kevin Gay was also on the course. He started Operation New Hope 23 years ago and says in that time, the program has impacted thousands of lives.

“Every year we have about 600 men and women going through our program with new hope and that’s what we’re all about is creating hope," Gay, Ceo and Founder of Operation New Hope, said. 

Around $10,000 were raised during the event.


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