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No Free Lunch: One Man's Journey from Welfare to the American Dream [Hardcover]

Rodney Carroll , Gary Karton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 30 2002

“Everyone who is successful, regardless of age, race, or ethnicity, at some point in their lives received an opportunity. Someone believed in them enough to give them a chance.” These are the words of Rodney Carroll, one of America’s most innovative minds and a leading architect of the welfare to work movement. They encapsulate his inspiring memoir, No Free Lunch, the story of a man who rose to the top–and returned to bring millions of people along with him.

Raised in an area both economically and emotionally depressed, Rodney and his siblings were forced onto welfare after Rodney’s alcoholic and abusive mother was declared unfit to raise her children. Though lured by gangs that aimed to “draft” him into their midst, he clung instead to his wise and loving grandmother and his innate desire to “make a difference.” A part-time job as a truck loader for UPS would change Rodney’s life forever–and eventually change the lives of others who were looking for a chance to work.

By improving the efficiency of others at UPS, Rodney was rewarded with promotions. By balancing his successes and setbacks, applauding others’ accomplishments, and disciplining not humiliating, he learned how to manage men and women, lead departments, and, at last, to lift up others who started out as humbly as he had.

Putting his own job on the line, Rodney created a program to employ welfare recipients at UPS–a plan that would become a model for others across the country. Initially derided by others as “those people,” these new workers responded to Rodney’s faith in them, and their new self-esteem led to new self-sufficiency.

Written with vigor and humor, No Free Lunch is a testament to one man’s tenacity and compassion, a sweeping story that starts in a slum and ends on a stage shared with President Clinton, a stirring book about one American’s fight for the independence of millions.

Product Details


Product Description

From Library Journal

Ghetto-born Carroll managed to parlay part-time work at UPS into a career, then helped launch the company's Welfare to Work project. Now he's CEO.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Rodney Carroll is President and CEO of The Welfare to Work Partnership. He lives in Mitchellville, Maryland.

Gary Karton, a former Washington Post reporter, was the Director of Special Projects for the Welfare To Work Partnership. He now writes for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book May 22 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I thought this was an awesome book explaining Rodney Carroll's life and way to becoming a person who is very successful. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would encourage anybody to buy and read this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Vivid and Inspirational Story with no cliches Oct. 7 2002
Format:Hardcover
Rodney J. Carroll, the author, describes being raised by a neglectful mother in a poverty-stricken area, his pitfalls and prmotions within United Parcel Service, his pilot project which showed UPS the work potential of people on welfare and his experience standing on the podium with the President of the United States.
While reading the book, you feel like you are right with him. For example, he describes the story of his first day of work where he isn't trained and makes significant mistakes. He leaves the rollers in the truck, fails to sort the packages, and comes close to losing his job. He doesn't hesitate to tell the reader about weaknesses- giving you a sense he is a well-rounded real person willing to share of himself.
This book also avoids many of the cliches and unreality of the typical "rags to riches" autobiography. For example, he speaks of two times in his life where he basically gives up and becomes apathetic. At one point in high school, his counselor tells him that he is not smart enough to go to college. He internalizes that message and partially believes it. He flirts with gang activity and drug dealing. He also gets turned down for promotions at United Parcel Service and makes the decision that many people make in that circumstance- to do his job, but not try to do more.
In each of these cases, he gets his ambition back and his life on track. A friend of his tells him about the Basic Educational Opportunty Grant which he uses to get his tuition paid. And, he is promoted at UPS four years later to be a division manager at the Lawnsdale Hub.
We are spared the usual impression of a person who remains totally determined and courageous under all circumstances.
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Format:Hardcover
Awesome - I believe that Rodney, in the course of his remarkable career, has indeed changed our world for the better with his compassion and belief. I also truly believe this book should be a mandatory read in all high schools and colleges. It gives much food for thought, including the responsibility each of us has to help address and solve the welfare problem Corporate America is living today. Most of us know little about the demeaning lives the people on welfare are forced to live, or the almost impossible task of improving their lives and Rodney, through his telling of his own experiences exposes the readers to their plight. I found this book an endless source of inspiration for me as a pacifist and believer in justice and equality for all. Rodney's skillful representation of welfare today reminds me of the unforgettable words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King where he prophetically penned: "We cannot have an enlightened democracy with one great group living in ignorance...... We cannot have a nation orderly and sound with one group so ground down and thwarted that it is almost forced into unsocial attitudes and crime". Like Dr. King, Rodney has forever altered the consciousness of America, like Dr. King, Rodney understands that love of God and love of ourselves are the necessary first steps on the road to freedom.
One of Rodney Carroll's greatest aspects is his commitment to his very own thoughts and thus, speaking his mind. He doesn't necessarily say what America's majority want to hear. That is why he is so phenomenal, so involved. His urgency in helping America's welfare recipients create themselves a better future, oppressed people world-wide; and his logical prioritising of human rights before civil rights, are evidential of his deep complex understanding of human nature.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Many are called few are chosen July 13 2002
Format:Hardcover
Rodney's book has sparked interest and attention. When one reads the book : you might wonder how could Rodney rise above his surroundings and overcome his roadblocks ? Well knowing Rodney for a number of years ; I've noticed that Rodney doesn't see roadblocks and has never fell victim to any of his apparently tough surroundings. He's a remarkable man with a gift. Everyone that has the opportunity to meet and share with him will notice this. He his :what success is meant to be. Rodney will enjoy tremenedous success because he always tries to share his good fortune.He truly believes that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. His calling is to make others great and he will never fail. I'm priviledged to know Rodney and call him friend.Rodney is a big man with a big mission-and anyone anywhere who can fellowship with him will leave inspired.Any corporation that has him will definitely excel.Any person that has Rodney as a friend is definitely blessed. Oprah,Tom Joyner,Tony Brown, and Rev Gray showcase this man.
...............Wes Southall
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