Things are looking up for Breon. Six months ago, he got his electrician’s license and started his first job with Workrise. Not only is this helping to provide for his three children—age 10, 9, and 5—it’s yet another sign that he’s breaking the cycle. 

Breon developed what he calls a “survival mode mindset” at an early age, as he was bounced between family members in Texas, California, and Michigan. When he was 21, he was incarcerated for two years. “I stayed out maybe two years and then went back. The last time I did 42 months. I didn’t get out until I was 30,” he says.

While serving his time, he reflected deeply on what got him there. “A lot of the things I did was out of desperation. That’s all that I feel like I had, but I realized my goal is to be a productive citizen,” he says.

Breon

He also realized he wanted to be somebody for his kids. “When I had my little boy and then a little girl, that’s when reality started to set in that I need to start taking care of stuff,” he says. “I’m not the kind of man that can be okay with not providing for my family. I can’t tell my kids I can’t feed them today…I got to make something happen.”

That’s when he started thinking long term about the skilled trades. Throughout his childhood and early adulthood, he leaned on his grandparents for structure and support. He found a source of positivity in his grandfather—a plumber for the city of Austin. As a skilled laborer, he showed Breon the meaning of hard work. He has passed away, but his influence lives on in Breon. “He always believed in me. He’s the one that inspired me and kept me motivated. He gave me the will to get dirty, want to build, want to dig,” Breon says. 

 

WORKRISE

Drew Anthony Smith

Breon and his grandmother

Though he had always “counted himself out” when it came to considering a professional career, the tide turned when he realized he had an equal opportunity to get work.

My biggest thing is trying to break the cycle. I try to figure out a way each and every day. Construction and electrical work is a good space for that. Breon — Electrician

Now he’s trying to build his career so that he can be the kind of person his kids look up to. “I would hate to present myself to my kids as a failure. It’s a proud dad thing. I do everything for my kids.” 

Though the job isn’t always easy, Breon likes the precision necessary and wants to gain more skills in the field. For now, he’s enjoying what he calls “a more worthwhile lifestyle” of weekend barbecues, his son’s football games, and relaxing after a hard day’s work. “In the past, I was doing stuff where I didn’t know if I would make it home. Now my kids see me dirty all the time and they like, ‘You’ve been at work’. It’s a good feeling.”