Jimmy Brown

My name is Jimmy Brown and I grew up in Compton, Los Angeles. Some people say Compton is the worst part in LA, I have seen worse.

I have been together with my wife for 19 years and we have been married for 14. We have twin boys who are 10. Twins and triplets run in my family. I told my wife I did not want to start having kids till we were settled and have a house.

Before ReIgnite Hope, my life was miserable. I had been working in construction but there was no work around. A year and a half before attending ReIgnite Hope, my twin brother got shot and killed. Another one of my close friends was shot in the head and died in my arms. Six months after my brother was killed I got shot three times and I thought to myself, ‘I need to turn my life around.’ I was in the hospital and recovering for nine months. After my recovery, I went to a job fair and heard about Wheels of Hope.

ReIgnite Hope not only taught me how to weld but also taught me to be humble. Our instructor, Pastor Steve, is super humble, and I thought to myself, I want to be like him. From the time I met him I got a good vibe. It also helped me with my temper and with being patient. It used to be at the drop of a hat I would get mad but now people can even put their hands on me, I don’t get mad, I just laugh and walk away. I now work at the Program Wednesday through Saturday, helping students. The future is bright!

Edson Morgan

I was born in Pasadena. I am single with no kids. Before ReIgnite Hope I was trying to find a decent job; no I was trying to find a career. I was working as a security guard and life was hard. I put in to quite a few other schools but I could not get in, they were all full. I wanted to be an apprentice with electrical but I never got called. I did not have a lot of options.

I would go to ReIgnite Hope and get instruction on the weekends, then go to class during the week in the mornings to practice before going to my security job. ReIgnite Hope kept me focused and gave me options. Our class was like a family, we looked out for each other. Someone could not get to class, then someone else would lend them a bike.

In class pastor Steve and others would encourage and tell us about God. I learned how to pray. I prayed that I would get into the electrical apprentice union. After ReIgnite Hope, I checked in with the union and they let me in. Now that I am a certified welder it made me more qualified and when I finish my apprenticeship there, I can do both.

Because of ReIgnite Hope, I am a lot more confident, a lot more employable and very grateful. It was so great I referred two friends and I see their lives being changed for the better too.

Tony Linares

My name is Tony Linares. I am from LA. I have a wife and a son. Before ReIgnite Hope, life was tough. My wife had lost her job. I was looking for work for over five months. I went to a temp agency and I finally had to take work doing night time deliveries. It was hard to make ends meet. It was really hard on my family not being around much. I even broke my leg and was out of work for four months.

Steve allowed me to come into the program even though my leg was broken. I learned how to weld and got certified. Shortly after being certified I got a hired by a company doing welding. I am making much better money and able to support my family now. I work days and can be home with my family at night.

I am now back at ReIgnite Hope on the weekends helping other guys learn to weld and practicing new types of welding as well. My welding training has given me a lot of confidence, a career and my boss tells me I am huge asset to the company.

Fernando Gonzalez

My name is Fernando Gonzalez. I was in the first class in 2010. Before the welding school I was always looking for work and sometimes found it in unskilled positions like restaurants or landscaping.

Before I was in the class I also used to do things like cocaine, marijuana and abuse alcohol.

In the class, Daryl and Steve (the teachers) were a blessing. They not only taught us about mig and stick welding, but they encouraged us to go to church, read our Bibles and were great examples of how to be men of God.

I am now a certified welder. I stopped hanging out with people who were bad influences on me and started hanging in good circles.

I now work at Hollywood Welding Company. We do ornamental and structural welding. I do mig welding, flux core and I’m learning tig. We build fences, gates and other structures. Fred Jordan Mission helped to get me in the program, and I now go back and work at the Mission as well.

I am a deacon at my church, do music at my church and I’m saving money. I would like to have a fab shop of my own someday.

David Penn

I grew up in Watts and Compton. I dropped out of Davistar Jordan High School in the 11th grade to sell dope. Did that for a year and a half. Then I started using and I was 20 years when I first did cocaine. Came downtown at 1991. I was homeless for 2 years and a heavy user. I was caught robbing someone in ’98. Did two and half years at Corcan State Prison in Kern and out in 2001.

When I got out I started smoking again and my life was a rollercoaster. I supported my habit by stealing, shop lifting and selling bad dope. Dec 12, 2001 I got caught again and received 8 years in San Louis Obispo, CMC east prison. The day I got out I smoked again and came down to LA.

I told my probation officer I need help and then put me in Weignhart Epic program. Stayed clean for 30 days. Then relapsed. They kicked me out on the street. Called probation officer and they gave me another chance and I went back to epic. I then stayed clean for 4 months.

I got my own place for $234 a month on skid row housing and got social security. Then get $991 from SSI. Had $650 free cash every month and I would use that to use. I did this for 4 months.

I was caught dealing to undercover police and went to jail Aug 17, 2013. I did 18 months at Chino jail. I got out Jan 6, 2015. When out I relapsed several times but then Lamp on crocker accepted me. I been clean since July 14 till now.

I am asked how am I going to stay clean? God number one. I ask for the ability to resist temptation and praying three times a day. I practice Thursdays and come to theory class Fridays. I need your prayers but am very thankful for the opportunity and excited to get a job, stay sober and be surrounded by good people.

Jerry Thompson
I grew up in Pasadena and LA. I was raised by mom only and had two other siblings. Left home when 14 years old. I left because my mom meant well but I felt like my mom was too tough. I lived in the streets selling drugs, stealing cars, whatever it took to survive. I lived in several group homes.
I went to prison the first time when I was 17, east county jail for grand theft auto. I was in for 16 months. I have spent half my years in prison, I am now 50. I went in for anything from receiving stolen property, selling drugs, stealing commercial property and gang activity.
I took a welding course in prison but could not finish it because I got transferred. Dec 2, 2011 got out of prison, but the 4 years I was in before, I decided I was going to change my life and use my talents and abilities to live in a honest way. Since being home, I have not been perfect but am doing well.
My first job was building maintenance and I lived at work. I started a shoe shine business, handyman service and selling antique/vintage goods. Now that I am learning welding, I already am getting jobs to repair steel structures and make fences.
I heard about ReIgnite Hope from a former student. I wanted to take the class to finish the class I started in prison.
In 5 years I want to have a house, use my welding to expand my company and live a good, honest life! I want to start more programs like ReIgnite Hope to help kids to gain skills like welding and mechanics.