Arlen Hughes- Windows to Work Success

“I want to leave a legacy for my kids.”

This is Arlen Hughes’s daily mantra.  Doing the best for his children is what keeps Arlen focused on his goal.  Arlen can reflect back over the last few years and now sees how hard he was working to build that legacy.

In 2008, Arlen settled in Wisconsin Rapids.  He states, “This town has been good to me even though I was a total jerk.”  Arlen is very open about the mistakes he made in the past.  Those mistakes landed him in jail.  While he was incarcerated, he was fortunate to learn about the Windows to Work Reentry Program.  

The Department of Correction’s Reentry Program is operated by the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board in collaboration with the Wood County Jail and the Department of Community Corrections.  A Reentry Coach assists inmates with employment skills prior to release.  The W2W Program also incorporates cognitive intervention to address how criminal thinking leads to poor choices, specifically in employment.

Arlen worked one-on-one with his Reentry Coach on budgeting, job search and work readiness skills.  Arlen reflected back to when he first got involved in the program.  He stated, “Trust is a BIG word when you are incarcerated.”  Arlen learned to trust his Reentry Coach.  The process wasn’t easy, but his involvement helped him stay out of trouble and focus on his career goals.  Arlen believes the Windows to Work Program also taught him to make the most of the resources available to him.

With the help of the program, Arlen obtained employment working in the fast food industry.  It was an entry level position, but it provided him with an income.  More importantly, his employment provided hope for a better life for him and his children.

IMG_1364Today, Arlen is working in the culinary services at a prominent hotel.  In less than a year, he advanced from entry level food prep to now assisting in scheduling kitchen staff.  Arlen has more than a job; he is on a career path in the culinary industry.  Arlen recognizes his successes and personal growth, and is proud of his determination to avoid the temptations and mistakes of his past.  

Trust, determination, and legacy are all a part of his vocabulary today.  Arlen doesn’t want to look back, but rather looks forward to owning his own food truck or restaurant someday.  Arlen continues to challenge himself to do better at work and at home.  He appreciates all who helped him get on the right path, and is proud of the person he is today.



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