2002-01-26 / Front Page
Local Gas Station Gives Man New Lease On Life
By Howard Schwach
By Howard Schwach
Jean Sanders walked out of prison on February 6 of last year. It was the first time he had tasted freedom in seven years after being found guilty of stealing a women's car while in a "drug haze."
He was 41 years old with a 12-page criminal history and little in the way of prospects. His family did not want to take another chance on him and nobody wanted to give a convicted felon a chance by providing a job.
Today, a year later, Sanders has a job pumping gas at Channel Drive Service Station in Arverne, and, more importantly, he has regained his self-respect. He has stayed out of jail for 12 months, the longest period of time he has been out of jail for fifteen years.
The transition has not been an easy one.
He wound up in a homeless shelter. He cranked out hundreds of resumes, but was told time after time that the jobs he was seeking were no longer available.
"I was down and ready to give up," Sanders told The Wave. "I just went AWOL for a few weeks, missed my probation appoints and hid from life."
"I have a lot of pluses," he added. "I have a good heart, a half-way good brain and I believe in myself. I wanted to work, but nobody wanted me. I was at the point of giving up and going back to my old life."
He was staying alive by jumping subway turnstiles and panhandling on subway trains.
Then, on November 7 of this year, things began to turn around.
He went to Curtis and Associates, a job training program for felons.
One of the people who was familiar with the program brought her car to Channel Drive for service. She was impressed with Sanders and mentioned him to Brad Goodman, one of the station's owners.
Goodman told her to send Sanders to speak with him.
Sanders told Goodman and Keith Gaffney, the station's service manager, that all he wanted was another chance.
"Can I trust you with my money," Goodman asked.
"You certainly can," Sanders answered.
"You can start tomorrow," Goodman told Sanders.
Goodman took the chance and today, Sanders says flatly, "Brad Goodman saved my life."
"Jean is a good man," Goodman says today. "When I met him it was hard to believe that he had such an illicit history."
"He's a good employee," Gaffney told The Wave. We're in the business of giving people a second chance and it has paid off with Jean."