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Start 2018 with a new career! SER is Now Enrolling!

Posted December 21

Participate in a hands-on training and get help finding employment.  Complete the on-line application ... Read more...

Nory Angel, SER CEO, to leave organization in 2018

Posted December 11

On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff at SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., we would like to share with you that Nory... Read more...

Capital campaign officially kicks off!

Posted September 21

SER publicly announced its Pathways to Potential capital campaign with a news conference held at the site of its new... Read more...

Robert Nordyke

After spending nearly half of his life in prison, Robert Nordyke finally realized his true calling, to inspire others by sharing his past experiences with those who are where he once was.

Raised in Baskerville, California, Robert moved to Dallas, Texas as a teenager, where he began his high school journey. Robert wanted nothing more than to be accepted, make friends, and adjust to his new surroundings. Unable to acclimate and feeling ostracized, Robert began to hang around with others at school who he felt were also outcasts. He began to experiment with drugs and get into trouble. Robert’s trouble with the law escalated as his use of drugs increased.

“I started to hang around the wrong crowd…I hung around those kids who would accept me. I wasn’t being accepted with certain social groups, so I went to the group that would – those were usually the bad people,” said Robert.

His teenage years were marked by drug addiction. At age 16, Robert was incarcerated for criminal activity. The recurring cycle of incarceration and re-entering society began to evolve.

However, Robert was not without skills. “In high school I was expected to become an architect because of my artistic abilities…, [but] I chose to quit… 2 months away from graduation to work on a construction project making $4 an hour (in 1976).”

“I shied away from responsibility….all I wanted to do was get a paycheck. I would build my resume up to a point and just stop. I was happy with that life.”

Fast forward years later, now living in Houston after serving time for his longest sentence of 25 years, Robert had gained a new, positive outlook on life but was struggling to successfully reenter society.

“The first 10 years in prison, I was very hard headed…I had an ego,” the now-50-year old said. “It caused me a lot of trouble in there. I started to notice that I wasn’t making parole when I was eligible. I started to notice that the recidivism rate was lower the more education you had, and you were more likely to get parole.”

“I started applying myself more… I gave my life to the Lord. I got an Associates of Applied Science, [and studied] cabinet making, peer health education, welding fabrication, auto technology, and horticulture. That resulted in my being released from prison after serving 20 years.” It was during his last incarceration that Robert realized that he had much to offer to anyone that would hire him.

As a condition of parole, Robert found a home at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center on Washington Avenue to help him with his drug and alcohol problems and with finding employment.

Robert possessed skills, experience, and a strong work ethic, but he did not know how to formulate his resume to reflect his skills in a manner that would make him a viable candidate.

After hearing about SER’s services, Robert paid a visit to Jose Diaz, a SER Career Coach. Robert was interested in taking the CORE+ training course, receiving job readiness training/career exploration, and financial coaching.

As Robert had very limited experience with computers and typing, he and Jose compiled all the certificates and experiences Robert had earned into a legible resume.  Once Jose reviewed the final draft of Robert’s resume, he realized that Robert did not need the CORE+ training. With his experience, a job opportunity might be available.

“Jose taught me how to email my resume to companies, gave me interview tips and in the end, told me he would give me leads to a few jobs, then call me after several days,” said Robert. “A few days later, Rickey Davis, SER’s Training Coordinator, called me and asked if I would be interested in coming in for an interview for SER.”

“It [has been] a learning experience,” said Robert. “SER hired me as a trainer for the Core Construction course and the Warehouse Forklift Training, due to my heavy equipment expertise.”

Robert’s success in overcoming his past has made him an inspiration to his students. “In my last class… I connected with every student in there. Because… our lives [had similar] problems and we have a lot of barriers in front of us,” said Robert. “SER has the solutions. That is what SER specializes in… getting a person’s life back on track, [helping him to become a] proactive member of society.”

As he continues to be an asset to the SER family, Robert is also focusing on repairing his credit, finding a new home through first time home-buyer programs, and obtaining additional instructor certifications. Prior to SER, Robert’s income was unsteady and unpromising, now he is close to being able to make a down payment for a vehicle in the near future.

Thanks to SER, Robert Nordyke feels he has finally broken the prison/reentry cycle and found his calling!

As of September 2017, Robert is happy to report that he was discharged from parole early, due to good behavior. “If it wasn’t for [the SER team] taking the time to help me discover my talents and build my resume, I don’t know where I would be today.”