“It’s never too late to change:” Community Warehouse helps transform lives

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A former cop is hired for a job by the same person he put in jail. Ever since the retired Milwaukee police officer has been helping ex-criminals transform their lives one by one.

At Community Warehouse, palettes are not the only entities being uplifted.

"A lot of it is respect and a pride they feel good about themselves because they know they are accomplishing something," said Raymond Robakowski, Community Warehouse Manager.

For years Robakowski has helped ex-convicts get jobs, and now the former cop is working alongside them.

"In 2006, I was a Milwaukee police officer and I was approached by a young man who I'd known he'd just gotten out of prison. He asked me, can I help him? He and I went on a job hunting expedition and we found out about this place and came here," said Robakowski.

That same man hired Robakowski after he retired. He says many of the employees have child support issues or felony convictions making it hard to find a career.

"They want to work, they have to be given an opportunity. We'll train them, we'll do the best we can, we give them forklift licenses," Community Warehouse Employee, June Buchanan.

Buchanan now has high hopes since going through this transitional program.

"Try to get into a trade or something. I have a son now so I have to stay out of trouble, focus, maintain and push myself father for a better future for me and my family," said Buchanan.

Buchanan helps sell donated new home improvement materials at a discounted price.

"We just keep them working we try to teach them work ethic with the customers face-to-face," said Robakowski.

Workers are hired at Community Warehouse for six months then placed into a permanent job.

"When you are place there you got to show them you are the best employee out there," said Buchanan.

The company also holds bible study once a week, the faith based organization helps rebuild lives in many ways.

"Our job is to make sure they keep that hope," said Robakowski.

Grateful for this opportunity, like many others, Buchanan now looks ahead to a brighter future.

"It's never too late to change your life around," said Buchanan.

This week alone, Robakowski has placed 4 workers into permanent jobs. He says now the challenge is finding more employers looking to hire.


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