SeattleAntiFreeze: Seeing stars

SEATTLE — "The brightest star in the sky, that's how I want her to see me."

It's about the sweetest thing you will hear from a father anticipating his first child. Especially when the baritone comes from a 6-foot-5-inch frame. Paul Jackson wants his little girl to know Dad will always support her, protect her and have her back.

There's no doubt in his voice. But just a few years ago, there was plenty.

"In another place and time, I might have relapsed or I could have been a statistic," Jackson says. It's what he worried about for eight years.

That's how long he was in prison for a home invasion robbery. He was 20 years old, he needed money, and he was hanging with some bad dudes. He makes no excuses. He committed the crime.
But doing the time means more than a prison term. It also means not many people want to hire you.
Except David Israel. He says, "If you don't want to give them opportunities, then you're just saying, 'Go commit crime,' and then you're complaining about crime. You're not fixing anything."
Israel believes anyone trying to fix themselves should have the chance.
Five years ago, he started POP Gourmet Foods. You may not recognize the name, but you've seen the packaging.
They make specialty snack foods that sell in 18 different countries, more than 20,000 stores: popcorn and chips and condiments with Sriracha sauce - Rogue blue cheese - Tajin seasoning. You've seen them in Starbucks, on airplanes, on "Oprah."
And every step of the way, felons have been on the payroll. About 23 percent of the workforce.
"They're the most appreciative, loyal, committed employees you'll find," Israel says, walking through his company and shouting hello to his 100 employees.
That includes a warehouse manager who's expertly juggling orders and workers for the multimillion-dollar company.
The big guy on the forklift, expecting his baby daughter any day now.
He's 6-foot-5, and aiming a whole lot higher. "I just want to be the brightest star in her sky and to know that I'm always there for her, the shining example."

The story gets more compelling when you hear more of the background of David Israel. Watch it here.

After the Aurora Bridge crash, people in our area jumped into action, donating hotel rooms, blood, prayers, challenging Seattleites' reputation for being chilly (the "Seattle Freeze"). It inspired me to pass along stories of when we see people in the community coming together, or what I call #SeattleAntifreeze. If you know a story that should be told, let me know. mminglaven@kiro7.com

To read more stories, click on #SeattleAntifreeze.