Second Chance Employer Profile
All Star Labor & Staffing
Portland, Ore.-headquartered employment agency All Star Labor & Staffing places workers in a variety of positions and industries, including construction, warehousing, medical, landscaping, hospitality, administrative office work and agriculture. The company has 13 staff members and maintains offices throughout Oregon – in Albany, Bend, Portland, Eugene and Salem. The types of jobs available depends on the location.
Although the company offers temporary, permanent and temp-to-hire positions, temp-to-hire is its specialty. “We really focus the most on temp-to-hire. That gives an opportunity to our employees to work for 90 days or 520 hours. Once they satisfy that requirement, the employer still wants to hire them and the employee is interested, we convert them to full-time employment,” says Lenanne Miller, the company’s business development and community relations manager.
As for the employees it sends out, “We work with backgrounds that are clean, not so clean and everything in between,” says Miller. At any given time, All Star has an average of 375 paid employees, and generally one-third of those have a background that it is aware of.
Second chance hiring practices
All Star Labor & Staffing is an employment agency with a difference. It operates, according to Miller, as a “full service profit company with a nonprofit mission – to help formerly incarcerated job seekers find work.”
Ramona Mathany, CEO, founded All Star after volunteering as part of a prison ministry for 10 years at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon’s only prison for women. She had seen women returning to prison, and the reason was that they couldn’t find a job. So, Mathany thought she’d do something about it and founded All Star Labor & Staffing.
Miller was hired in 2017. In her role of community relations, she began to visit churches to talk about job opportunities for those in reentry. “I went to every church in Albany, Lebanon, Springfield, Eugene, Independence, Bend and Monmouth. I’ve been to over 500 churches and two times to every church in Bend,” she says.
Now Miller devotes part of her job to visiting six Oregon correctional facilities on a bimonthly rotation. These are Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland; Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville; and Oregon State Correctional Institutional, Oregon State Penitentiary, Santiam Correctional Institution and De Muniz Resource Center/Marion County Jail in Salem. In addition, she sends materials to the transition coordinators at three other facilities – Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras, Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton and Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla.
When Miller goes into the prisons, she talks to the people about the types of jobs available and how her company can help them find one. “I ask them to write a letter to the branch managers introducing themselves and telling what type of work they’re looking for,” she says. And to her initial surprise, a good number of people have done so.
Because of the extensive outreach that Miller has conducted, each of the company’s branches has developed community partners to whom she sends a periodic blast email with available job openings to share with their clients.
One of the challenges of developing second chance hiring initiatives as an employment agency is being on top of a client company’s hiring policies in terms of background checks, says Miller. She says she’s heard of individuals who have gone for job interviews and gotten hired on probation. But when the company found out the employee has a record, they didn’t make it past probation.
In spite of the hard work and challenges, the rewards have been many, according to Miller
“People are so thankful, because they didn’t think there was going to be any opportunity for them,” she says. “I just open the door, but they go in and do the work. Just being a voice of hope for them and getting a genuine smile and gratitude that I took the time to come in and share with them means everything to me. Spreading the good news of All Star is one of my biggest passions.”
CEO Mathany offers some advice to others who are thinking of doing second chance hiring.
“Keep an open mind, and let the person’s skillset speak for their future. Don’t let their past put a limit on how far they think they can go,” she says.