San Francisco foundation helps ex-offenders gain apprenticeships

Anders and Anders

Joshua Shane Worstell is one of more than 2,000 people helped by the foundation operated by Terry Anders.

For many leaving prison getting an apprenticeship can be a great way to reenter society. And Anders and Anders, a small San Francisco foundation, is helping those in reentry do just that in a big way.

It would be difficult to find someone more qualified than the founder, Terry Anders. Formerly incarcerated himself, he robbed seven banks to support an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. But that was a long time ago – another lifetime. (He got out of prison at age 27.)

“I was over on the other side for many years. Then I got into the ironworkers Local 377, and they were very instrumental in turning my life around,” Anders says.

Trades give sense of self-worth

“All I knew was the street and jails and the penitentiary. But having a trade and getting a job that was very meaningful gave me a sense of self-worth that I could be something. I could do something that’s larger than myself. Not one person puts up a building. I learned to work with others in a meaningful positive way. The trades gave me a foundation that I cherish.”

Anders got into the trades in the early 1970s and spent many years with the iron workers union. But he was always thinking about what he could do to give back to society.

Breaking the cycle of recidivism with jobs

“I created Anders and Anders in 2005, because I saw the opportunity to help ex-offenders, particularly people of color in marginalized neighborhoods who needed a support system to do something with their lives. I want to break the cycle of recidivism with job opportunities. It gives me the possibility to get beyond myself and help people in meaningful ways like the union did for me,” he says.

Anders says his goal now is to help people that he identifies with. He wants to support those who don’t have a particular job or trade and works in what he calls marginal neighborhoods of San Francisco, like Hunters Point and Visitation Valley, Potrero Hill, the Fillmore and certain pockets of Chinatown.

“Anders and Anders can show you, can walk you through the process, can give you the understanding that if you do this, this and this, this, this and this will happen for you,” Anders says. “I give a lot of my personal money today, because the grant money I have working with the city is very limited.”

Helps people enter unions

Anders helps people get into unions and get jobs through CityBuild, a San Francisco workforce development construction training program. He also has been a community monitor, visiting worksites to make sure there are workers from different Zip Codes and different genders. “When I go to a job site, I look at not those who are working but those who are not working there,” he says.

In the 14 years since he started his San Francisco foundation, Anders has helped more than 2,000 people. “What’s more important instead of the quantitative number, however, is that I have helped that one who had lost their way along the way. That way I can focus,” Anders says. “I do what I do because I’m glad that I can do that. Because I remember when I wouldn’t cross the street for another human being. It was all about take, take, take, because I had been abused and refused.”

The story of one who Anders helped

One of the people he has helped is Joshua Shane Worstell, and Joshua’s story shows how far Anders will go to make sure some people succeed.

Worstell was a lifer, incarcerated for 20 years. While in prison he did everything he could to improve himself, including learning how to weld. After finding Anders’ address in the book “Getting Out and Staying Out,” Worstell wrote to him. Anders started writing to the parole board and said he would get Joshua into the union.

“When I got out I gave him a call,” Worstell says. “Mr. Anders came and picked me up. We’d go for a run and talk about what I needed to do. He took me to the various stores to get the tools I needed and got me into the union. And he took me to go get things to eat and called me to make sure things were all right. He really welcomed me back into the community. When I got into a job and needed some tools I didn’t have, he went to the store and got them and brought them to me at lunch.”

Anders and Anders went beyond being just a San Francisco foundation. Terry Anders became Joshua Worstell’s friend.

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