Calling all those who said they needed help

So you made one phone call to ask for help.

Then Reis didn't hear from you again.

So that's why I am calling out today, and calling out for you.

Steven and Erika, Kenneth, Clifton, Angela and Robert.

Keisha - where are you?

I've lost contact with a bunch of other young guys who called here in summer, saying they were done with dealing dope and wanted a job - any job - that would take them off the street.

But their interest in getting on a better track seems to have lasted a minute.

Look, this is hard. This takes patience. I know you needed a job three months ago. I know a lot of you groan when you hear me suggest certain "programs" - Goodwill, STRIVE, the Mayor's Ex-Offender Initiative - because you can't imagine that a "program" is going to help you. (This just in: Donta Ellerbe, profiled in this space a week ago, found a job in a cafe with the help of the Goodwill program just in the past couple of days.)

When Lewis Jones called here last week, I heard a baby crying in the background and Jones' voice sounded strained and tired, even a little desperate.

I feel ridiculous telling a guy like Jones to be patient.

Easy for me. I have a job. I'm not four months out of prison, or just off home detention, with felonies on my record, trying to find employment somewhere near a bus route because I don't own a car. I probably couldn't handle much rejection. I'd feel as many of you do - that a felony conviction is a chain you will never shake.

I'd be tempted just to go back to what I knew. "I gotta do what I gotta do to support my family," I've heard more than one man say, and he meant selling dope again.

Look, you can't do that. Your family, your neighborhood, your city need you to do better. The fact that you made the first phone call says a lot about you. It says you're ready.

But you have to make the second call, and the third, and the 15th. I can't give you a time frame for finding a job and a new and decent life. It takes as long as it takes.