Robert Bankston Just Wants A Chance
A woman I know sent me a photo of a man who was seen at the corner of Johnston Street and Camellia Boulevard on Wednesday morning. She asked if I could "see if there is someone out there that would give him a shot?"
People in Acadiana are some of the kindest on the globe, but a job offer hasn't come yet for Robert Bankston, and there are reasons, he says.
The good news is that I got a chance to talk to Robert Bankston and I was able to talk to a friend who works in rehabilitation to try to get him some help. The wheels are turning and I hope things will work out.
I had to find out about Robert because of his sign. It was to the point, "NOT HUNGRY, NEED WORK, MY CELL IS 337-207-9159."
I called, introduced myself, and I asked him if we could talk. He replied, "yes, but I gotta tell you, I've messed up all my life."
I asked him if he wanted me to tell his story and let people know about his story and search for a job and he said absolutely. Robert told me, "I've got nothing to hide. I'm 56-years-old, I'm trying to change my life, but I need to work."
He was honest about his burglary charges and his prior thefts charges- all of which he has served his time for, and he says he wants a chance, but he understands people are scared to give him a chance because he was in jail. He says he gets that.
Robert says when he tries to get a job, he's honest about his history, and people don't want to take a chance on him because he has served time.
Mr. Bankston says he has done labor work, roofing, and that he really loves landscaping. He has experience with carpentry, but readily admits he has no degree.
It's hard he says because he knows he has limitations because he quit school after 8th grade. He doesn't have a high school diploma or the equivalency of that, but he told me he is willing to learn; he's ready to change things. But, he also told me he knows it's not easy.
He says he wasn't an easy person to be with either. He says he and his siblings were raised by his grandmother, who was a wonderful, loving woman, "but I ran all over her." He says she was so kind, but he would easily do whatever he wanted.
When I asked him why he's trying to change his life now, he says that he has learned some about the Lord. He says someone in prison would read the bible to him, and he finds it amazing.
I know it's not going to be easy; he surely knows it's not going to be easy, but I sure hope someone might be willing to give Robert a chance. I also understand that's a hefty thing to ask of someone.
Bankston was very open about his life, including many details that I don't plan to share here. I also understand one phone conversation is only a small way to take the measure of a man's life. I don't have the answers. Robert doesn't have the answers, but I love that he put the sign right out there for the world to see...he's ready to work.
I admire a man that gets a sign, tells the world, "I need help" basically and sits at the corner of an extremely busy intersection in hopes that someone will take a chance on him so he can change his life. It's a decision that will have to be weighed carefully.
As I mentioned above, I've already reached out to see how to help, and hopefully, that's going to work out. So, why do this story? I hope Robert gets his chance, but it's not like he's the only one that needs a chance. There are plenty of people out there right now looking for a chance, and I hope I can help. It struck a cord with me when he said, "yes, but I gotta tell you, I've messed up all my life." It made me think, haven't we all messed up before?