‘Above and Beyond' : Ricky and Diana Sanders, help for ex-cons

SIBLEY, LA (KSLA) - A Webster Parish couple has gone 'Above and Beyond' to help ex-criminals get back on their feet, after they leave prison.

Ricky and Diana Sanders of Sibley, Louisiana run a machine shop business in Sibley, called Sanders Machine Inc., which is designed to offer assistance and work to those in need, including ex-criminals.

"There are people with real needs and living real life and real life is tough," said Ricky Sanders, owner and proprietor of Sanders Machine Inc. "We want to be a help to those people."

The family business, as they see it, is an extension of their own lives. Now not everyone at Sanders Machine Inc. has a clean background, a few according to Mr. Sanders have been behind bars or in trouble with the police and some were practically living on the streets.

"Six months ago, I walked away from my past," Mike one of the Sanders' many employees said. "I was homeless, sleeping in my truck."

The Sanders' believe that just because a resume may include time spent serving the state, it doesn't mean they can't work.

"He obviously had some drug problems way back, family problems, but genuinely good guy who made a change from what we can tell," said Mr. Sanders.

In the meantime, Mike is almost on his way back with a career and a new life, but he's just the latest success story to work their life back on track at Sanders' Machine Shop.  While working at the Sanders' shop, every employee also learns to give back.

For the second year in a row, Sanders employees are chipping in and boxing up trinkets for Operation Christmas Child, which is a program that provides Christmas gifts for underprivileged children all around the country.

The penal system may be designed to rehabilitate a criminal's behavior, but ask some of the machine shop employees and they will tell you, that the Sanders' go straight for the heart and soul of a man.

The Sanders' say they do not go out of their way to find employees with a criminal past, they just give them a chance when others might not.

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