The Awake family: Meet Rikqee
It’s no secret that Awake Window and Door Co. has a unique mission in combating mass incarceration and recidivism in our community. Many men and women seek employment with our company because they know they will be judged by the content of their character and not the charges on a criminal background check.
We believe individuals who have made the decision to live a different life deserve a career on which to build that life… a real chance to succeed. ￼
We are proud of what is being accomplished here. In our first year, Awake has built up an employment base consisting of nearly 40% men and women who have spent time in prison. They have unique stories and paths that led them to prison. Some experienced significant traumas throughout childhood. Others were surrounded by drugs and crime and were drawn into the same influences that brought down so
many around them. They made decisions that they will regret for the rest of their lives.
Whatever the circumstances that led to their incarceration, there is one thing they all share in common: they were eventually released. Upon release, they began the reentry process. They started looking for a job.
Riqkee was one such story. As a child, he had two loves… his family and football. His mom and dad both struggled with drug addiction and were often abusive towards one another. Riqkee and his sister often found themselves in the middle of verbal and physical altercations at home. Riqkee would spend a lot of time in his room playing video games and, on the weekends, would make his way to his aunt’s house to
spend time with his cousins. But they weren’t all bad times. Riqkee would often take advantage of the good times his family had together… grilling with his dad, laughing with his mom, and playing football.
Riqkee grew up quickly. At a young age, he began having many adult responsibilities placed on him. He learned how to cook his own meals… Riqkee was a great cook. He learned how to get himself and his siblings to school, found ways to get them food with little or no money, and was even the one to find them a place to sleep when things got too rough at home.
Riqkee didn’t really have a lot of interaction with the police growing up, other than minor traffic tickets,but that all changed a few months after his 20th birthday when Riqkee was arrested for a crime reported by his mother. He took a plea deal and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
He served his time mostly working a trash detail or as a porter between various buildings. While behind bars Riqkee got word that his father, his best friend, had passed away. Then, ten days before his 23rd birthday, Riqkee was released. “Home” was difficult to define for him since his father’s death, so he really didn’t have anywhere to return to. But he began to create a new home… his own home. Riqkee
soon met the mother of his three children and started a family of his own. He worked a number ofdifferent jobs trying to find a place where he could rebuild his life with his family, but continued to runinto roadblocks due to his criminal background. Then, in March of 2022, Riqkee got word that his mom had passed away. Once again, his world was rocked and became unstable.
In April 2022, Riqkee connected with Awake through a strategic community partner and quickly joined our panels team. He was also trained in building and glazing our 425 series windows before applying for a position in our shipping department. While in shipping, Riqkee continued to grow more and more capable in loading trucks on his own. Eventually, he was promoted to the position of shipping lead and helped lead a small team to ship out millions of dollars of Awake products each month. He also worked with Awake to qualify for a grant which allowed him to train for his CDL – his next career goal. He was well on his way to creating a life for himself that he didn’t get to experience growing up.
On January 17, 2023, we got a call that Riqkee was found unresponsive in his room and later died in the ambulance. It was an apparent attempt to numb pain that he had been experiencing alone. It was a shock to all of us. His laugh was contagious and his passion for what we stand for at Awake was undeniable. Days before his death, he made a point to walk into the office and let our founders know how much the company meant to him.
“I would have definitely gone back to prison if it weren’t for Awake.”
He would refer friends and family members on a regular basis. They would apply and mention Riqkee had told them Awake was a great place to work… “they treat you like family.” At his funeral, his family confirmed the sentiment. “Awake was Riqkee’s family,” they told us. They saw his smile and knew that he was surrounded by people who loved him… even to the very end.
Riqkee was family and will be missed by so many at Awake. He’ll continue to be a part of our story moving forward and will be a constant reminder that we are building more than amazing windows and doors.
If you are interested in a life changing career with Awake or know someone that may be, please click the link and find out more information: Careers – Awake Window & Door Co. (awakewdc.com)
For more information regarding our social mission check out: Mission – Awake Window & Door Co. (awakewdc.com)