“Re-write the narrative for myself.”

A transcript of Jamon Buford’s presentation to the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership program members on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Pictured above (left) next to Kyle J Benson-Smith, Executive Director of Determination, Incorporated:

2 out of 3 people with a felony conviction are rearrested within 3 years of their release. Yes, 66% of people with a felony conviction will be rearrested in 3 years.

More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States. That includes hundreds of thousands of dads and moms missing from their children. That is more than 2 million people missing from the workforce.

That is why my success story is so powerful, but it has also been hard as hell. My name is Jamon Buford. My story starts like many of these men and women, but it ends like few. 

I stand today representing the 33% that will not be returning to prison. The 33% that are providing positive impacts to their communities and their families. 

I served my first prison sentence at 19. I was a career drug dealer. It was the only thing I knew as a way of life and the only way I knew to make serious money. Like the statistic, I was released from prison and returned at the age of 23. 

Being young, equipped with the same mindset, and with the added pressure of having a family to provide for; no job skills, no positive mentors, no access to jobs, all eliminated because of my felony record… I returned to dealing drugs, the only way I knew to provide. 

At age 36 I was back in prison. When I was released 7 years later, I had 5 kids waiting for me, but this time was different. This time during my prison sentence I decided that I wanted to create a new narrative for my life. I decided I wanted my legacy to be positive and powerful.

Having learned in prison that planning would be essential, I took classes and I planned who I would and wouldn’t allow in my circle. Armed with a new mindset, I learned that positive support was essential this time.

I swallowed my pride and put God first. I allowed my mother, my sister, my fiancee, and even my ex-wife to help me. Then I watched how God provided, including introducing me to the Determination, Incorporated community. 

Through Determination, Incorporated I was able to take the planning that I had put in place in prison and put it into action. This community provided structure, access to financial resources, support, and accountability. This allowed my dream of entrepreneurship to become a reality. 

Today, my business allows me to provide for myself and my family, and also to provide jobs for felons so they can have opportunities as well. 

Throughout this journey I learned many things. I learned how to be more selfless. I learned that change starts with me making the decision to do something different. I learned that having access to life and business tools, financial resources, and a plan, opened doors to new opportunities that I never knew were possible. 

I learned that I could re-write the narrative for myself. 

If I can do it, every other repeat offender can do it as well if given the opportunities and the tools needed. They too can become a positive contributor to their community, and be a provider and backbone for the family. They can create a legacy they can be proud of.

My name is Jamon Buford. I am the owner of Good Brothers Construction and Remodeling. I am a father. And I am an entrepreneur.

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Determination, Incorporated is a 501C3 nonprofit in KCMO creating a pathway of opportunity for formerly incarcerated people through entrepreneurship. To learn more, contact us here.

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