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Cleanslate Uniform Saves Job Seeker From Arrest

Photo of Cara job seeker, Otha, hugging Cara staff.
Otha was sure he was going to spend the night in jail when the house he was staying in was raided by the police. Then the arresting officer saw Otha's Cleanslate uniform.

“Cara actually saved my life; Cara saved me … There’s got to be a reason for me to be in this program.”

“It was this last January. It was about three o’clock in the morning. All of a sudden, I hear beating on the front door and back door at the same time. First thing that comes to mind is: “well, the police are raiding the house.

When the guns were found in the house, the police tried to pin a lot of things on me. I didn’t think it was fair at all. I didn’t own the guns, it didn’t have nothing to do with me, it was just where I was staying. I was just trying to get back on my feet and was staying with family, I didn’t have anywhere else to be – nowhere else to live. I had worked Cleanslate the day before, and my uniform was sitting there on the chair next to the bed. 

“I’m sitting there, handcuffed on my bed, and one officer really directed his attention towards me, He was very rude; very nasty. He just kept on and kept on, ‘you’re this,’ and ‘you’re that. You’re going to jail,’ until I was at the point, I said, “look, man, I’m not going to jail. Please call me a sergeant, or somebody I can talk to.” I’d never said anything like that to police before, but I just didn’t want to go to jail for something that I had nothing to do with. 

I was so determined not to go to jail because of what I wanted to do: to change my life. I knew I had no power if they took me to jail. I had no power.  

“About 10 minutes later a sergeant comes in. I told him my situation: this is just where I’m staying, that I didn’t have anything to do with the guns, that I’m trying to turn things around. 

“It looked like it was going south as we’re talking; all of a sudden the sergeant saw my Cleanslate uniform and was like, ‘what’s this, here?’ and I told him, “that’s my uniform.” I told the sergeant about Cara, and how it’s about giving people the opportunity to do something different. To change their lives. 

“The sergeant stood there for a moment and then was like, “Mr. McClendon, I’m going to tell you what: I’m going to give you a break. I’m going to let you go, because I see what you’re doing.” 

“As soon as he saw I was working at Cleanslate, he changed his mind. He changed his mind over. He didn’t even agree with his other officers – his own officers were telling him to take me to jail. But when he saw my Cleanslate uniform, it changed his mind. 

Ever since then I believe there’s got to be a reason for me being here. There’s got to be a reason for me to be in this program. I’m going to finish – and this is the first time I’m ever going to finish a program like this. I really think it’s a blessing, because I could be in jail again. I’m just gonna keep striving and doing what I got to do – find out exactly what it is. Because Cara actually saved my life; Cara saved me. You know, it really did.”

Your support of Cara Collective is critical to furthering our mission of eradicating poverty and increasing access, equity, and opportunity. Please consider making a financial gift this June to support job seekers like Otha. Thank you for your support!