Life after prison can be difficult for many people who don’t have help re-assimilating, but for some lucky folks in the greater Chicago area, they just might get a second chance by learning to become beekeepers. Sweet Beginnings is a program that is run by the North Lawndale Employment Network, which helps people with criminal backgrounds find employment and re-acclimate to life outside of prison with beekeeping.
Sweet Beginnings started out as a traditional job training program, but soon the founders realized that many of the people they were trying to help preferred to work outdoors, hone their social skills and be in touch with nature, rather than be saddled to a desk. So, they decided to break into the beekeeping world.
The best part about keeping bees is that it doesn’t have to happen in rural communities. Plenty of beekeeping is done in urban Chicago neighborhoods, with opportunities for people to get involved in all facets of the business, from caring for the bees to distribution. For people who are a little hesitant to work directly with the bees, there are always clerical jobs, plus labeling and packaging, assembling hives and helping to sell items at markets and fairs. No matter what type of work a person is interested in, the beekeeping industry probably has a place for it.
Sweet Beginnings has been working with rehabilitated convicts for about 10 years, and in that time almost 500 former prisoners have transitioned from temporary jobs at Sweet Beginnings to permanent positions in a variety of industries.
Here at Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, we love hearing success stories about other companies who are able to give back to their communities through outreach programs like this one, while creating and selling natural honey products to local consumers. We wish Sweet Beginnings the best of luck, and many more successful years to come!
And if you’re craving some honey after reading about all that sweet hard work, you can find it right here at Marshall’s.