The Wisconsin Job Honor Awards, a new initiative aimed at recognizing Wisconsinites who have overcome significant barriers to employment,
announced Ariens Company employee Jason Wright as one of its top honorees for 2016.
Growing up in inner-city Chicago, Wright's dreams of a football career ended when a bullet shattered his leg in a drive-by shooting. Wright plunged into depression and drug abuse and was later sentenced to prison for selling drugs. Several years later his life abruptly changed when he got the opportunity to work for Ariens Company in Brillion under a prison work release program. Released from prison and now working at Ariens full-time, Wright was recently promoted to production trainer and his future is bright.
"I was a very bitter, depressed individual before I got the job," Wright said. "Now, I'm probably the happiest man living. I immediately had a new addiction (when I started at Ariens), and it was to provide for my family. Ariens truly saved my life, because I don't know where I would have been if they hadn't given me a second chance."
In attendance at the awards ceremony, which took place in Madison, Wis., at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, were Jason's wife Antionette, his brother and his aunt. From Ariens Company, Recruiter Marsha Majors, who submitted Jason for the honor, and Manufacturing Leaders Pat Weller and Leo Sambs were also in attendance.
"We look at people's backgrounds -- that's very important, but you can't assume as an employer that someone's background is going to make them not successful and not able to do the job, and Jason has shown us that, Ariens Company Recruiter Marsha Majors said. "He has overcome his past and has really become a very successful contributing member to society."
submitted via the organization's website and judged by a statewide panel. The awards were presented by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch during the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) Talent Conference on Tuesday, February 23, 2016, in Madison. Nearly 200 Wisconsin business leaders assembled to witness the ceremony, in which biographical videos described honoree efforts to win life-changing jobs.
"Jason's attitude is inspiring. He has used his past experiences to shape his character today, and he is a great example for his co-workers and his family," says Ariens Company Chairman/CEO Dan Ariens, "It's important for employers to look at applicants and employees on an individual basis and keep an open mind."
Sharing employee honors is Mitchell Matthiesen of Suamico.
"I applaud these honorees and all our citizens who are working hard to overcome barriers to achieve the dignity of work," said Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, "Rather than letting the past dictate their future, these individuals are proving that prosperity is possible when you work hard, stay focused, and keep hoping."
Wright received $500 cash and an engraved crystal award at the ceremony.