LA CROSSE, Wis., Dec. 21, 2016 – Western Technical College student Jordan Holter, of La Crosse, was one of four recipients of the 2016 Wisconsin Job Honor Awards, an initiative aimed at recognizing individuals who have overcome barriers to employment, and the employers who hire them.
“Wisconsin is celebrating a new kind of hero,” said Kyle Horn, founder and director of the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards. “These amazing honorees demonstrate that Wisconsinites who overcome patterns of failure or challenges such as a disability are not only highly qualified employees, but frequently they demonstrate remarkable work ethic and loyalty.”
Holter’s story is an example of prevailing in a situation where, unfortunately, many do not.
After a “normal childhood” filled with sports and family vacations, Holter experimented with methamphetamine in 2006. The drug quickly took control of his life.
“I didn’t even go to Christmas one year,” Holter recalled, “because I thought my parents were going to have me arrested.”
Eventually, he was arrested on felony drug charges. While in jail, he became involved with Project Proven, a program that helps offenders re-integrate into society through education and employment.
While completing Industrial Electronics and Maintenance coursework at Western, Holter was hired by Great Lakes Cheese as a maintenance apprentice.
“You could take one look at his circumstances and the things he was doing and you could see that this is a gentleman who is going to be an asset anywhere he goes,” said Keith Lease, Western’s business coordinator for Project Proven. “Through this program, we’ve found that while people who have struggled with criminal history are highly intelligent and highly motivated, they don’t always have the supports needed to be successful. We work on helping people jump through the hoops and get connected to resources.”
“Project Proven saved my life,” said Holter. “I’ve seen life at its lowest, and I’ve seen where a new path can lead. Now, I want to be a light for other addicts.”
Holter was presented with the Job Honor Award during the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) Future Wisconsin Economic Summit in Madison on Dec. 15, where he received a check for $500 and an engraved crystal trophy.