A key contributor in Sun Cedar’s production shop and a native and near-lifelong resident of northeast Kansas, Kelly was born into a stable family in Lawrence in 1966. At the age of 18 he left the area and obtained employment as a meat-cutter, which he maintained for four years. It was during those years that his partying got the better of him and he developed a serious cocaine dependency, which led him into a non-violent criminal career that ultimately resulted in more than two dozen felony charges and several extended incarcerations.
A frustrated parole officer once asked Kelly, “How is it that you get straight As in prison but keep failing on the outside?” Wondering the same thing, during his time behind the walls Kelly launched into a decade-long study of religion at the prison library and started exploring various treatment options to address his drug dependency. This eventually resulted in his enrollment in an intensive, 12-month residential inpatient program that made him realize “I needed to do something different” and provided him with some of the tools he needed to live a healthier life.
Kelly found himself unemployable after his release because of his criminal history. "That baggage makes it impossible to get a regular job. And when you add addiction to the mix, it's just ridiculous." He came to Sun Cedar after being recommended by Mike Caron, the then-Director of Operations at the Douglas County Jail and a key early supporter of the company. He loves the work and the people he works with, and while he’s still dealing with the aftereffects of extended incarceration, he believes that Sun Cedar has been very helpful in keeping him focused on maintaining his sobriety and walking the straight and narrow.