Travis McClure's felony conviction kept him behind bars for three years. When he was released in 2015, he still felt imprisoned. He said, "I feel like with not being able to get a job, I feel like im still serving time. Basically, with not being able to get a job... looking down at me, like he don't deserve it."
St. Louis furniture company Anew nature wanted to give him a second chance. 6 weeks ago, Travis landed a paid internship. Anew Nature founder Robert Karleskint and shop manager Matthew Blackwelder teach ex-felons how to build furniture at their workshop on Indiana Avenue in St. Louis.
Karleskint said, "Their options are minimum wage job, and could lose their job at any time, or the options they know and are comfortable with. Not a lot of mobility."
Currently Anew Nature has three paid interns, all of whom have a felony record. After interns complete a 2 month program, they'll have the skills to work a number of jobs whether it's an auto painter, welder, or carpenter.
Karleskint said, "All of us try to link them up with jobs as fast as we can."
Anew Nature recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new furniture line, which would double the amount of paid interns and add another fulltime staff member. "You can preorder all of the furniture on the line as your donation tier on Kickstarter. So you're actually getting something for your donation."