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Cristina Finds Her Community at Cara

Photo of a woman wearing sunglasses ringing a bell to celebrate accepting her job offer.

“I got out of prison this past October. I’m almost 50 and I’ve been in prison since the age of 18. I’ve never had my own place, so my main concern was always housing, and that search was such a hurtful process. My applications kept getting denied because of my history. I ended up spending over $500 on application fees. Nothing changed until I met someone at the halfway house who had been through Cara; she told me Cara would be able to help me with housing.

“When I came to Cara, the Recruitment Team assured me they would get me into SPRING Forward and, in addition to helping find a job, they could help me find my own place. At first, I didn’t believe it could be real, but everything Cara told me they were going to do for me, they’ve done. My coach, Anastasia, was wonderful. She worked with Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) on my housing referral, and not even a week later I was in contact with my Housing Navigator. He sent me pictures of three different places, and I was like, “Is this really happening?”

“When I finally did get the key to my place, it was hard to believe – it was so relieving having it in my hand knowing they couldn’t take it from me. Once I signed the lease, everything changed.  

“But Cara was so much more. My cohort was so supportive of me and my story as a trans woman. After one of our classroom exercises, one of my trainers challenged me to get up in front of everyone and tell my story. I had to fight the prison system to be housed according to my gender and to have access to gender affirming care while I was incarcerated. To have people there, from all backgrounds, reach out to me and hug me and accept me – it was just absolutely beautiful. I feel so included here!

”Cara really works, and their success for all these years is really a testament to that. It’s workforce development, but it’s not your average workforce development program. You become part of a community. It doesn’t just help you get a job and housing and on your feet, it helps you with sustainability so that you can keep living your life.

“Today I have a job at BorgWarner as a machine operator. I love it. I’ve learned a lot about myself. Just because I don’t know how to do something, it’s okay to ask questions and learn. Cara taught me to keep focused and I’m already excelling on the job. I’m very proud of myself for that.

“The biggest thing for me is the healing I’m able to do now that I have a steady job and a home to live in. And to have Cara still behind me, knowing that I still have their support, it feels great. You can’t get that anywhere else.”

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 Cristina. Thank you for your support!