As soon as she was eligible, Cindy Trabish began taking classes at Sinclair Community College through the Dayton Correctional Institute. Over the final five years of what became an eight-year prison term, she earned a half-dozen certificates in a variety of business subjects, as well as commendations from the state, county and city for her participation in a management-training program.
She also helped train service dogs and participated in multiple religious retreats, which she continues to do 18 months after being released.
“I did everything I could to show I could be trusted,” Trabish said. “I did everything they offered.”
That determination – and connections made through the Beacon of Hope Business Alliance and Cincinnati Works – led her to Nehemiah Manufacturing, where she has earned multiple promotions and quickly established a sense of stability:
- She works first shift as a quality control technician.
- She has a safe and comfortable apartment in Northside.
- And she recently purchased a car, which will make it easier to spend time with her teenaged grandchildren.
“The mindset was already there,” said Tevis Clark, Trabish’s professional development coach at Cincinnati Works. “Working with her is easy.”
Clark playfully refers to Trabish as “Martha Stewart,” a nod to her age and the crime that landed her in prison: embezzlement. “I know I’m not like most of his Members,” she said, “but I like that he treats me the same.”
They exchange messages regularly, a mix of encouraging updates and helpful reminders.
“He gave me a lot of confidence,” she said. “I would get down on myself a lot, and he was always there for me, telling me, ‘You know the way it is, you know better.’”
Trabish earned multiple college degrees and had a comfortable career prior to her arrest. She became addicted to opioids a decade ago, first stealing prescription painkillers from her late husband, then stealing money from her employer to pay for heroin. When her husband passed away in 2009, her drug habit and deceit worsened. She was eventually caught embezzling money from the small company where she worked as an accountant.
“They had a lot of trust in me and I betrayed that trust,” Trabish said.
In the months between her arrest and the start of her prison sentence, she spent six weeks in a hospital getting off heroin. Then, in the first two years of her sentence – before she was eligible to take college classes – she worried that the nature of her felony and her age would make it difficult to get a job when she eventually got out.
So she committed to taking every class possible as soon as possible, from customer service to supply chain management. She got involved with Kairos Prison Ministry. And she was introduced to Beacon of Hope Business Alliance, an initiative started by Nehemiah to help people get (and keep) jobs after prison.
When she was released from DCI in February 2018, Trabish spent a few months in a halfway house to complete her probation, then got a job at a small company in Northside and found an apartment nearby. She reconnected with Beacon of Hope a few months later, which led her to Cincinnati Works and the job at Nehemiah.
“I’ve always been a good worker,” she said. “It wasn’t something I didn’t know. It was just something I had to get back. I kind of lost myself for about 10 years.”
She raved about the atmosphere and opportunities at Nehemiah, where she rose quickly from the assembly line to a supervisor role. She continues to participate in Kairos retreats at DCI, and she regularly speaks to women in the reentry pod at the Hamilton County Justice Center.
“It feels really good to be able to help,” Trabish said. “The more I do it, the more I enjoy it.”