Massachusetts hoping grant can help addicts in recovery find jobs

LOWELL, Mass. - Finding a job isn't easy and it can be even more challenging for people in recovery.

That is why the Career Center of Lowell is applying for a grant that would help train and find people jobs.

For Cassidy Peinert, Wednesday is a day to celebrate. She'll be starting what she calls her first real job at the Purple Carrot Company in Lowell.

Cassidy has struggled with addiction for the past 7 years.

“For me, I would rather talk about it. I want people to understand. We're hire-able,” he said. “If we want the help and get clean, I can do exactly what everyone else is doing.”

The department of labor is offering a federal grant to address the unemployment rate among people in recovery.

“It's finding the industries that are open to that and then working with the employers to understand, to remove the stigma and provide incentives,” Career Center for Lowell Executive Director Shannon Norton said.

The grant would not only help pay to train individuals in recovery, it goes one step further.

“If you're a mother or father who has lost their job because you've been taking care of your child who is going through the opioid crisis, then we can help you become re-employed or underemployed,” Norton explained.

Cassidy says having a job gives her strength to stay in recovery and hope for the future.

“You feel like you have a purpose, even if it's just giving out coffee for the day. You have a purpose again in life,” Cassidy said.

Along with working, she has enrolled at Middlesex Community College to study criminal justice. She hopes to one day work with law enforcement to help others in her shoes.

Massachusetts has picked Lowell and Springfield to be part of this grant proposal. They'll submit next week, and should hear back by October if they've been chosen.

The total grant would be for 2 years, and up to $5 million.

MORE: CROSSROADS: Lowell -- A Boston 25 News in-depth report