Kelly's Story

Oct 14, 2021

Twenty years.

Twenty years in prison is a very long time. Time to think. Time to regret. Time to make plans for the future. Kelly says if he had a million dollars to build a time machine, he’d go back and change what he did that led to his imprisonment. There may not be a time machine, but with where Kelly’s life is headed now, don’t bet against him having a million dollars someday.

The last eight years of Kelly’s incarceration were the years he decided to focus on what he wanted to do when he got out. And what he wanted to do more than anything was make the most of his second chance.

“I asked myself how I could be a positive influence to my family and to God. But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I had to learn to put God first; that’s when everything started to come together.”

Kelly remembers putting an occasional dollar in Salvation Army red kettles many years ago but never thought that one day they’d come back to help him.

Kelly credits the classes at The Salvation Army for changing the course of his life.

“Those 90 days changed my life,” says Kelly. “I learned how to dress for the job interview, how to answer the interview questions. Those classes helped me get jobs over all the other people they interviewed. If it were up to me, I’d make those classes mandatory for everyone.”

After holding jobs in trucking and culinary arts, Kelly now works as a custodian. But he has his sights on opening his own trucking company. You would be wise to not bet against him.

“The Salvation Army has been everything. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Despite his claims that he couldn’t find the words to describe how much The Salvation Army has meant to him, Kelly shared these poetic words with us:

“If the waters in Lake Michigan were ink, it still wouldn’t be enough to write how beautiful this place is. For doubters who don’t think it’s real, I’m here to tell you it is.”

Now that Kelly is making the most of his second chance, his wish is to pay it forward to others.

“If you have the right support team, there’s no limit to what you can do.”

And Kelly’s supportive wife and 11 grandchildren will be right there alongside him — every step of the way.