Eight years ago, Andre Williams would never have pictured his life the way it is now. A Bridgeport native, Williams was born and raised in the East End. As he was growing up, his mother worked in customer service and his father worked for the town of Stratford. Within three years of graduating from Harding High School in 2002, Andre became a manager at Stop and Shop. While things were going well for Williams, he said he got “caught out living on the wild side and took the wrong turn”. He was arrested in 2009 on drug charges. A year later he was released from prison but within two years he was back in jail. Out again in 2014, Andre was looking for work but potential employers had a hard time seeing past his criminal record.
Williams had a stroke of luck when he found Adrienne Houël and the Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises; “She gave me a chance when no one would.” Starting as a book scanner, only three years later he is now the facility supervisor. Adrienne says she has seen tremendous growth in Andre and adds that he goes “above and beyond” in his work.
Andre is a father of two and is engaged to be married to his sweetheart of 16 years. His hard work, likable persona, and determination has allowed him to become a reliable head of household, giving his fiancée the opportunity to study to be a licensed practical nurse; “This job has helped my whole family.” Williams says he now knows he has a responsibility to his sons to “get it right”.
What’s next for Andre? Well, he is currently studying to be a truck driver and considering following in Adrienne’s footsteps. Today, he says Adrienne is teaching him about how small business, co-ops, and non-profits are run. Andre hopes to do for others what Adrienne and GBCE did for him and his family.