Gage Park auto body shop aims to give those with criminal records a second chance

Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Chicago auto body shop aims to provide 2nd chances for employees
Xpress Auto & Tires 2, on 51st St. and Kedzie Ave., in Gage Park, Chicago, aims to give those with criminal records a second chance.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There was a grand opening Tuesday for a new auto body shop on Chicago's Southwest Side, aimed at steering people with criminal records down positive paths.

The man behind the project has a record himself.

ABC7 Chicago is now streaming 24/7. Click here to watch

It's been a week, and business has been steady at Xpress Auto & Tires 2 at 51st Street and Kedzie Avenue in Gage Park.

The owner is a third-generation mechanic, and someone who served time for violent crime.

"I change my perspective; I was in prison. God blessed me with a new set of eyes to see the world," Rogelio Richart Jr. said.

Richart was focused on helping his father's business when he first got out of prison, and now he just opened his own business, where all his employees must be excellent mechanics and have good hearts.

"So many people are apprehensive to give men like me opportunities. So, coming here, I made sure that every single one of men who work for me come from my background," Richart said.

SEE ALSO: Micro-preemie beats the odds, goes home nearly 6 months after miracle birth at Silver Cross Hospital

One customer followed Richart's story on social media, and brought her car to him.

"He was given a second chance, so might as well give everybody; everybody deserves a second chance," Savannah Lozada said.

Another customer said Richart's shop was recommended, and she is glad to support his business and mission.

"It's amazing. Honestly, it's great; it's nice to know that there are some people out there who are willing to help other people," Jacqueline Madrigal said.

Richart is also an ambassador for the Illinois Prison Project, which offers legal assistance to those serving time from convictions in their youth. The project also helps those in it find positive purpose when they come back into their communities.

"Everyone deserves an opportunity to become a better person; now, everyone may not take that advantage of that opportunity, but they deserve that opportunity," said Vincent Boggan, an Illinois Prison Project community navigator.

Richart hopes his story will encourage others who are incarcerated to have hope, and inspire other employers to see the value in offering opportunities to those ready for a second chance.