Wes Oliver's Story
"I owe so much to the DI. I am where I am because of them."
Featuring: Wes Oliver; Janet Oliver, Wes’s mother; Bishop Pinson; Katie, DI development counselor; Jeremy, DI job coach; Dave Wright, Wes’s mentor
Wes – My name is Wes Oliver. Before my experience with the DI, I looked at it as just a place that you can take what you don’t want. Now that I’ve had my experience, I view them as a place that gives people opportunities when a lot of people wouldn’t.
Janet – Wes is an incredible swimmer. He won a state title, went to Paris with the Junior Olympic team, had offers for full-ride scholarships to numerous schools.
Wes – In college athletics I started using some recreational drugs and alcohol and just progressed down a bad road—just kept getting worse and worse and worse and worse.
Janet – It was just a constant ache, not knowing where he was, what might be happening to him. And it just about broke my heart.
Wes – Four years ago my family had basically said, “Don’t come home.” My nieces and nephews were unable to see me. I had lost everything I owned. I started to get in trouble with the law, and I actually did some jail time. You know, at that point, my family came and visited me, and my bishop was coming to visit me just to offer words of inspiration.
Bishop Pinson – Our first meeting together was actually at the jail. Wes was at a stage in his life were he really was not sure what hope he had.
Wes – When I was leaving the drug treatment program, a requirement for me to leave it was that I had a job upon leaving. When you’ve been to jail and you’ve been a drug addict and haven’t worked for a good portion of your 20s, I was nervous I wasn’t going to get out.
Bishop Pinson –I thought of the DI as a means to help Wes. They had a vocational rehabilitation program that was phenomenal.
Katie – DI helps people to become more than they are. Our purpose is to help Church leaders assist individuals in achieving self-reliance.
Wes – The DI teaches basic rules in employment, which, when you first start there, you almost think the rules are petty—like “Be exact on your breaks” or “No cell phones.” Now that I’ve left the DI, I understand that those rules are in place because most people, in my situation in particular, have never—I’ve never experienced rules. I’ve lived my entire 20s on my own rules.
Jeremy –Wes, when he first started here, he struggled following policies, staying on task.
Katie – It’s usually not an easy road for any individual to make these changes. So with Wes, we had a lot of setbacks. There were some disciplinary actions that needed to occur. It’s not easy to know exactly how best to help the individual. And so that’s something that occurs in counseling with bishops, counseling with mentors. Mentors are critical to an associate’s success.
Bishop Pinson – As I went about selecting a mentor, I gave prayerful consideration, and that’s when I chose Dave Wright.
Dave – The bishop asked that I be a mentor for Wes. And I didn’t know what it entailed, but as I’ve gone throughout this process, I’ve found that the bottom line is, it’s being a friend. Once Wes saw that I wasn’t judging him for his past decisions, once we could just connect as friends, it was smooth sailing from there.
Janet – As a drug addict, you can’t go back into that drug crowd—and Dave provided that friend.
Wes – Dave would involve me in things with his friends. When he was having a barbecue, he would invite me over, which just grew into the type of thing where we now are best friends. I have no doubt that the bishop was prompted to choose Dave from our Heavenly Father.
Katie – Having a bishop there that was actively involved in his progression, as well as having Dave as a mentor, created the environment for him to be able to make those changes.
Wes – My improving work behaviors as well, as an ongoing process—was not going too well. It seems to be getting better. I think you probably noticed that.
Bishop Pinson – Even though he was doubtful about himself, I could see the capacity in him to be much more than what he was. A lot like what you have at the Deseret Industries. People bring items in, and they find out they are a lot more than what they were.
When it got to the point where Deseret Industries’ program was ready to help Wes find employment, it turned out that Dave was ready to take Wes at his business.
Wes – The DI will place somebody into a job or into a career, and they will pay their wages. Dave approached me to do the business partnership, and it was wonderful.
Janet – We began to see just this person I never thought I would see again. Wes had this light about him again, this happiness in his life. What the Deseret Industries did for Wes, I had no idea they provided that for people.
Bishop Pinson – A bishop doesn’t come with all the skills to cover every corner of every individual’s life. I came to realize that I had an extra resource that I needed as a bishop.
Katie – I want every bishop to understand that we’re here to serve them. We’re here to counsel with them about the individuals in their ward and how we can help them best.
Bishop Pinson – Realizing what it did for Wes, I wish that others would take a more serious look at that program.
Dave – You look at someone where addiction dictated his life, who was incarcerated—now he’s getting an MBA. He recently went through the temple. He has a position of responsibility at his job. This system is set up to amplify your efforts. They really take that mission of the Savior and make it tangible.
Katie – Miracles occur here on a daily basis because people come to believe in themselves again. And the miracles are so big that there is hope that there is always something better.
Wes – I owe so much to the DI. I am where I am because of them.