When is the last time you sent a letter?
In a world with instant communication at our fingertips, the process of sitting down to write a letter, printing out pictures to share, buying a stamp and dropping the letter in a mail box is time-consuming and unnecessary.
But Marcus Bullock credits his mother’s willingness to go through this process day in and day out with saving his life.
A childhood cut short
At age 15, Marcus was sentenced to eight years in an adult prison for his part in an armed carjacking. He was a good student and talented athlete, but the temptations of the neighborhood won him over to drug dealing and crime.
Marcus would live out the rest of his childhood in maximum security prisons, waiting for the day he was released and could return to his family. During those eight years, his hopes were kept alive by his mom, who stayed in constant contact.
Letters from home
“There’s life after this,” Sylvia Bullock assured her son in one of her many letters. She wanted Marcus to remember his family and the full life he could have after his release. The letters and pictures meant more to Marcus than anything.
“When you are in prison, getting mail is like hitting the lottery,” Bullock said. Notes and pictures from home reminded him of the support system and love he had outside prison. Those letters gave Marcus the determination to live a successful life after his release.
A second chance at success
When Marcus was released from prison, he was still in his early 20s. He was ready to get to work but dealt with the stigma of a felony conviction every day. Marcus applied for more than 140 jobs before finally getting hired to sell paint.
Marcus worked hard to move up in the company and eventually started his own contracting company. Many of his employees have felony records. He uses the employment opportunities he was given to help others searching for new lives after prison.
But Marcus is doing more than just providing jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals.
As he tried to stay in touch with friends still in prison, Marcus realized how tedious it is to write a letter, print out pictures, buy stamps and stop by a mail box. He knew how important it was to give support and stay connected, so he started work on a new way to communicate with inmates.
Filling a gap
With his mother’s example as inspiration, Marcus developed Flikshop. The app allows family and friends to send pictures and messages to loved-ones in prison right from their phones. The messages are printed onto postcards and sent out by Flikshop. The company allows more inmates to connect with their families and prepare for release.
Marcus believes Flikshop is sending about 10,000 postcards every month. Tech companies, celebrities and athletes are beginning to invest in the company, meaning Flikshop has just scratched the surface of its potential.
Marcus Bullock is a prime example of second chances working. As a young man, he was determined not to let his past mistakes define the rest of his life. With a good support system and an entrepreneurial spirit, he’s been able to build companies, provide employment opportunities to others like him with felony records and potentially make an impact by driving down the recidivism rate for those who are released from prison.
Learn more about how #SecondChancesWork and share Marcus’s story.