Eight people making a turnaround from prison to paying jobs took a big step Friday when they graduated from a vocational training program through the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.
Friday's graduates, part of a group of 65 parolees in the program, honored their mentors and heard inspirational tales from actor and ex-con Danny Trejo during a ceremony at the Verdugo Jobs Center.
Trejo — who has worked in nearly 200 films, most recently "Machete" — underscored the need to stay clean, sober and on the right side of the law regardless of the temptations.
"I'd rather shoot for the moon and miss than shoot for the gutter and make it," Trejo said. "Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else."
The New Start program, funded by $171,000 in stimulus money through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, trains parolees to earn jobs in fields ranging from nursing and counseling to the traditional trades.