Gangs, drugs and alcohol were once a way of life for Keith Ferguson, a former inner-city youth whose future seemed plagued with uncertainty.
Repeated exposure to negative influences, coupled with an absentee father and a mother battling addiction, inevitably took its toll on the troubled teenager.
But two years in juvenile detention and a decade in prison provided Keith with an opportunity to do some serious soul-searching.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me, a reality check,” he said. “I knew I didn’t belong in this place. I felt like I could be so much more useful somehow and I refused to fail. That’s when I decided to earn my high school diploma and start doing whatever I could to better myself.”
Due to the resources and guidance of a local United Way partner, not to mention years of hard work and determination, Keith is now a certified electrician with an impressive resume and a brand new outlook.
“It’s amazing what PVJOBS was able to do for me. I have a decent apartment, new furniture and money in the bank,” he said. “These days, I’m mature, responsible and a positive influence on my family. I’ve reflected on where I’m at now and I’ve realized that it’s never too late to do something with your life as long as you’re willing to put forth the effort.
And according to Juan Alvarado, Program Manager at Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services, Keith is just one of many Angelenos who are receiving a fresh start courtesy of United Way.
“United Way’s partnerships with PVJOBS and other community-based organizations go a long way towards creating pathways out of poverty,” he said. “We are finally able to move away from generalities and point to specific individuals and families who have benefited from its initiatives.”