Margo Walsh believes in second chances. She runs MaineWorks, a staffing agency that employs people struggling to rebuild their lives despite obstacles, including overcoming substance use disorder and felony convictions. She also employs new Americans who are learning to work and live in Maine.


6 AM: I am at the MaineWorks morning circle. We build a bonfire first thing every morning and use that time to gather in a circle and introduce ourselves, including where we are living and where we are from. Everyone then responds to a question of the day. Today’s question is, “What struggle am I facing today?” Responses include working on recovery, seeing family, managing money and getting a driver’s license re-instated.

8 AM: I check in with the Cumberland County pre-release program about work assignments and paychecks for our employees, and to make sure everything is on track.


7 AM: I meet with Cecil and Brett, who manage and supervise MaineWorks’ field operations. We talk about work assignments and recruiting.

2 PM: Meeting with a donor about Maine Recovery Fund. The Fund allows us to solve problems directly and help employees prioritize the challenges in their lives. Needing a place to sleep isn’t an aspirational goal—it’s a real need. We mobilize money quickly when workers need clothes, transportation, phones or housing.


6 AM: We start the day with our morning circle, the routine and ritual that provides structure for everyone at MaineWorks. The question today is, “How have you changed?” We talk about everything from overcoming substance abuse to becoming a better father to finding full-time employment.

10AM: I just received clearance to visit the Kittery Naval Base, which will employ some of our MaineWorks employees. I spend a lot of time on job sites making sure things are going well.


7 AM: I review the day’s assignments with Cecil, and we talk about our supply of hard hats, reflective vests, gloves, socks, and other things our crews need to work. We recently received a donation of 40 brand new reflective jackets from a manufacturer. The sign on them when they were delivered said “non-conforming product.”

12 PM: I might eat lunch, or I might make some phone calls. I don’t have a set schedule. My comfort zone is chaos.

3 PM: MaineWorks hosts a barbecue for our employees and community partners, including the district attorney, the Cumberland County sheriff and other business partners. We are in the business of building bridges both literally and metaphorically.


9 AM: Out the window of my office, I spot a former MaineWorks employee, and he brings me a cup of coffee from next door. Now that he is sober and working, he has donated to the Maine Recovery Fund to support others. Giving back is part of his recovery and part of finding his dignity—it means he’s doing well and able to help. He has a lot to be proud of, and that means we’re doing something right.

4 PM: I am constantly thinking of how to grow and adapt MaineWorks to meet the needs of our workers and clients. Thinking about how to improve never stops.

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