Wendell “Craig” Watson is deeply passionate about criminal justice reform and specifically in helping children who are at risk of being involved in the system or are otherwise struggling. His dream is to start his own organization, and to share his personal story and wisdom to help others have a different path and better opportunities. At his current place of employment, Wendell arrives early and stays late whenever necessary, not leaving until the job is done right. Wendell is very active volunteering in his community; he provides speaking engagements in public schools, mentors local youth, and is a poet ambassador with a local organization, channeling his own experience in prison into poems as a public education strategy and tool.
Through classes, on the job training and volunteering, Wendell has developed proficiency in:
- Construction and Renovation: drywall, interior and exterior painting, laying concrete, floor installation, plumbing;
- Custodial Arts: commercial and residential deep cleaning, including waxing floors;
- Public Speaking: providing motivational speaking; and
- Mentoring: sharing personal experiences, guidance and a positive adult influence with at risk youth.
Wendell is an extremely hard worker and prides himself on the quality of his work. One of his greatest life’s lessons is: it’s how you finish, not how you start, which reflects the challenges he had and mistakes he made as a child, and the mature, reliable, honest worker he’s become as an adult. He brings integrity, time management, reliability and a positive, peaceful attitude to everything he does. He is skilled at team building, conflict resolution, problem solving and multitasking. He prides himself in staying calm under pressure. His goals include mastering skills to move up an industry or trade, eventually directing a team.
- Earned General Education Diploma
- Works at East Coast Design Build INC providing a range of residential and commercial home building services including laying concrete, floor installation, plumbing, dry wall, and interior and exterior painting
- Active Leader in the national Incarcerated Children’s Advocacy Network
- Member of Planning Committee and a Poet Ambassador for local literacy nonprofit called Free Minds Book Club; serving in a leadership role designing and implementing programming
- Provides Mentoring and Informal Counseling to at-risk youth and members of the larger community, as well as motivational public speaking at schools
- Held a Variety of Jobs including Customer Service Representative, Guest Services Representative, Maintenance Technician, and Facilities Maintenance
Wendell has been home for more than two years and has made up for lost time with his family. He has three siblings and many nieces and nephews, with whom he spends most of his free time, celebrating birthdays, holidays and freedom. He is a writer and an avid reader, particularly of autobiographies, and is fascinated reading about other people’s lives and how they manage diverse, complex situations and challenges.
In the more than two decades Wendell spent in prison, he dedicated himself to changing his life and learning from his past. He matured and transitioned from believing he had nothing to lose, to believing in himself and his ability to change for the better. He learned about friendship and teamwork, being open minded and patient, responsibility and most of all, he found hope and freedom in his faith. His life goals include owning a home, starting a family, being a positive influence in his community, and having a career – not just a job – where he can bring and be his best self.