DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tydricka Lewis' job announcement couldn't have come at a better time. She is a mother of three who has only been out of prison for four years.
The 33-year-old is a product of Durham's Southside neighborhood; she went to prison for writing bad checks to cash in on whatever her heart desired.
"Drug dealing. Drug doing and selling. All the things a child shouldn't be in tune with at an early age," said Lewis. "I did buy clothes, but we were staying in hotel rooms, paying people to stay at their house, my life was very unbalanced."
She served six years in prison and found it difficult to get a job once she was released -- because of her record -- until she connected with Step Up Durham, an organization that provides free employment services for job seekers.
In March of 2022, the city partnered with the nonprofit to provide a $600 monthly stipend to those who were formally incarcerated like Lewis.
"It pays for my vehicle. The car note which I would have never been able to afford on my own even with two jobs because my rent is so high," she said.
Shanti Callendar is the Guarantee Income Coordinator. She told ABC11 the pilot program serves 109 people.
"You have people that have started their own businesses. People who just got back and want to get education. So a lot of people put their selves back in school. I have some mothers who use the money for their children. They haven't seen the children in years, so they use the money to get back in touch with kids and buy them things they needed," Callendar said.
Callendar gave ABC11 a walkthrough of the headquarters that includes a coffee shop, computer lab and meeting area. The pilot program expires next month, unless the city acts fast to renew it.
"There's great workers out here. We just have backgrounds and things we did in our past, (but we) shouldn't be judged on past," she said.
According to Callendar, in one year no one in the program has reoffended. Callendar believes that initial success is proof that supporting people who have served their time, and helping them get back on their feet, is beneficial for all of society.
Tydricka can attest to that mentality. The program helped her get hired as a peer support specialist with the City of Durham.
"I have a big girl job," Lewis said.