Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: More than 10 years ago, I was convicted of prostitution and shoplifting and went to jail. At that time, I was homeless, an alcoholic and had an undiagnosed mental illness. With the help of several community agencies and my family (who never gave up on me), I was able to get sober, receive treatment and obtain housing. I have been working for several years at volunteer jobs in my church and for a local organization that helps the mentally ill.
I would like to find a paying job, but no one will hire me because of my criminal record. I asked for a pardon from the mayor, but was turned down, even though I presented him with many letters of recommendation from people who know me from church and other community organizations.
Annie, I am not the same person I was 10 years ago. I have a lot to offer. I want to continue to contribute to the community, but I need an income. Right now, I depend on Social Security, odd jobs and my family. I am not involved in any behavior that would lead me back to the streets. What can I do to prove that I am trustworthy and would be a good employee? — Midwest
Dear Midwest: Unfortunately, many companies don’t look beyond the criminal record when hiring. Would one of the places where you do volunteer work hire you in a paid position, even part time? Don’t be afraid to ask, and explain why you need the job.
Many states offer programs to help ex-offenders get back into the job market, and you can check online, at City Hall or through the governor’s office. Other places are the Safer Foundation (saferfoundation.org) at 571 West Jackson, Chicago, IL 60661; the National Hire Network (hirenetwork.org); the U.S. Dept. of Labor (www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/onestop/onestopmap.cfm) at 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627) or servicelocator.org. Goodwill Industries has been known to help with job training and placement. Good luck to you.
Dear Annie: I’m a 15-year-old sophomore in high school. I do volunteer work for a local organization and must frequently be in contact with my supervisor via e-mail. I have always addressed her as “Mrs. Brown,” which I feel is appropriate and respectful. Yet she always signs her e-mails “Mary.”
Since she never uses her last name, I’m beginning to feel awkward and overly formal by continuing to address her as Mrs. Brown. What should I do? — Trying to be Respectful in Vermont
Dear Vermont: Normally, we would say it is more polite to wait until Mrs. Brown specifically tells you, “Please call me Mary.” However, by signing her e- mails to you with her first name, she is giving you tacit permission to address her this way. If you are comfortable doing so, go right ahead.
Dear Annie: I have to take issue with your advice to “Twin Problems,” whose sister is a bully. I cannot believe you are letting the parents off the hook. Where is their responsibility in this issue, which you called extreme sibling rivalry? The bully should be being coached at home, and instead you are telling the innocent young lady to talk to her school counselor. In my view, her parents are doing a terrible job of parenting. Why don’t you tell them to do better? — G.T.
Dear G.T.: They didn’t write to us. Readers often expect us to give advice to a third party who isn’t looking for help. “Twin Problems” has already talked to her parents. They did nothing. She needs an advocate, and her school counselor is the most logical choice. We hope she follows through.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.8.11