Anthony’s Story

Anthony grew up without a father, and looking back now, he realizes the impact this had. Around the beginning of his teen years, Anthony began to rebel to cope. He turned to smoking marijuana, which soon turned into drinking, smoking cigarettes, and eventually using cocaine. As a result, he dropped out of high school before receiving a degree.

At the age of 17 Anthony walked out on his family and found himself with no place to turn. Things seemed always to be getting worse with no way out. Often homeless, he began a downward spiral that led to the use of meth and committing crimes to support his addictions.

Anthony spent the next decade either in prison or homeless and starving. Sometimes he felt he had to get high just to keep the hunger at bay. Anthony’s lowest point was finding a cystic lesion inside his right lung; luckily, this led to his second chance at life.

After having surgery, Anthony came to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, where he accepted the help of the Mission’s prison ministry.

“I remember [going] from being confined and locked up to being free and out in the open. God moved the most in my life in that season, and from that [point] on, it’s just been success after success.”

– Anthony

Anthony graduated from the Mission’s recovery program and was excited but also fearful of the future.

It was around the same time Tom Prenzlow, the CEO of Karman, and Eric Wightman, the Vice President of Operations, reached out looking for ways further to support the Mission other than financial donations.

While on a tour of the Men’s Shelter downtown, Eric saw the potential to help the homeless and Karman. Viewing the situation from an operations standpoint, he recognized that many people there could use jobs, and Systima could use more people.

“He’s a great machinist, just great overall person. And he’s got nowhere but up to go in this company. I wouldn’t be surprised if I came back in 20 years and Anthony is sitting in my seat.”

– Tom

From there, an idea was born, and soon Systima would be interviewing and hiring Mission graduates, giving them a second chance at life and a great career. Anthony was the first one on their list and was hired as a Materials Handler and then quickly promoted to CNC Machinist, which is his position today.