Ebony Davis, who was born and raised in Daytona Beach, was a social worker with a rising career. But when Ebony, who had had drug problems as a teenager and was in a recovery program, started to neglect her recovery, she fell fast. She acquired a new addiction – to pain killers – embezzled money from her employer, was caught, charged and convicted.
After serving six months in prison, Ebony moved to Jacksonville for a fresh start. Her probation officer told Ebony to talk to Ready4Work, a non-profit that helps non-violent offenders prepare for jobs after their release. Most of all, the organization helps ex-offenders practice answering ... the question.
“’Have you ever been convicted of a felony?’” Ebony explains. “I didn;t know how to handle that question, so I lied. When companies wanted to hire me, and then find out about my background, they, ‘why did you mislead us?’ It was getting more and more discouraged. Her case worker at Ready4Work made sure that was Ebony followed the system – show up every day, dressed for work, practice interviewing and tell the truth about your background. It worked. She got a job at a rehab center, then at a program that helps other felons qualify for work. Ebony Davis went back to school and is on track to earn her masters degree in December. None of it has been easy for her. “You have to persevere,” she says. “There’s nothing so bad that you can’t overcome it. When I was in prison, I thought my life is over. But there’s always someone who will give you a chance.” Her own life has provided both training and credibility for the work of helping others who think their life is over. “I tell people, you have to believe in yourself. You have to show up every day, and you have to be honest.”