Meet David, an LAC Success StoryA Brooklyn native used to big-city life, LAC paralegal Lionel Oglesby didn’t expect much from a little barber shop small-talk. But when he got to chatting about work, his barber, David Rivera, perked up at the mention of the Legal Action Center.
“It’s a small world, but it was really cool,” David recalled. “We were just talking, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute, they helped me out -- they really helped me a lot.’ ”
To Lionel’s surprise, David -- his barber in the East Village for nearly a year -- was a former client. And in another coincidence, the departure of the paralegal David had worked with, Evelyn (now in law school, no less) was the reason Lionel was hired in the summer of 2010.
David was Lionel's barber for months before they discovered the LAC connection. “It’s a small world," David said.
“It is a humbling experience to bear witness to what a difference access to understanding, redemption, and reentry can do for a person,” Lionel said, recalling that revelatory conversation.
“David is a dynamic individual, who is not only working towards his dreams, but living them as well -- and did I mention that he is a great barber?”
Bronx-born David, 33, said his wife – a city teacher for 12 years – was the one who found LAC online three years ago, when he was considering taking some of the city’s civil-service tests and getting his barber’s license. He wanted to make sure his criminal record, a remnant of some bad decisions from his younger days, didn’t get in the way. That meant getting a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities to show that he had changed.
“At the beginning I was -- you can say, a knucklehead,” he said with a chuckle. “And I’m still paying for it.”
But having turned his life around and reached out to LAC for help in getting his CRD, David was already on the path to becoming the success story he is today.
Not only does he put his barber’s license to good use -- just ask Lionel -- he’s also a top producer at a travel agency, having just returned from a trip sponsored by his company to reward the cream of the crop. A mini-tour of Europe, he said, it began in London and went on to Paris, Switzerland, Florence and Rome.
In short, things are looking good for David: The bills are paid, he and his wife are hoping to start a family, and he dreams of owning his own barbershop one day.
“It’s good to want to work for yourself, to be able to work as hard as you want and see the fruits of your labor,” he said, singing the praises of LAC’s “dedicated” staff once again.
“People change, but your record is concrete,” he said. “Legal Action Center was a place that actually helped me close the door on those obstacles – those demons that kept haunting me from the past.”