For one former gang member and drug dealer, the John Howard Society has made all the difference in settling him into the life that he wanted to lead.

Alex Scantlebury, a graduate of the professional writing course and current public relations student, said that he owed everything to the JHS and would not be the man that he is today without their support.

“I helped myself stay out of jail. They gave me the tools to help me be successful at it,” said Scantlebury.

The JHS helps rehabilitate ex-cons by giving them the support they need to follow a normal life. Scantlebury was ordered to attend one of their four week aggression prevention courses as a requirement of his bail release.

This is why Scantlebury is happy that his classmates, the first-year Algonquin public relations students, are using their Let’s Unlock Change campaign to raise money for the JHS.

One of these events, Unlock the 80’s, was a night of live music, silent auctions, costume contests and a speech by (TK). The event took place at the Royal Oak on Bank Street on March 27.

According to Taylor Boileau, a public relations student, their goal is to raise $10,000 for the JHS. Previous public relations classes have raised as much as $13,000 in their campaigns.

Scantlebury is hoping the money raised will go to the gang harm reduction division of the JHS, which helps to get gang members out of their situations while giving them the opportunity to support themselves and their families.

However, Boileau said the class has not chosen specifically where the money will go within the JHS and that they will decide after the campaign is over.

No matter where it all ends up, Scantlebury will be grateful to his classmates, as the society is a cause he’s truly passionate about.

“I swear by them,” said Scantlebury. “I wouldn’t be here, (I’d be) quite possibly dead and assuredly still in jail.”