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Meet Justin

Meet Justin, Cara participant class of September 2021 and Cleanslate crew member. He shared his journey with us so far and how he’s overcoming the pain of his past.

Two months before my release from prison, my mom passed away. When that happened, I was depressed because I was looking forward to coming home and staying with her. Without her, I didn’t want to move around my old neighborhood. It felt like an obstacle in my path, so I went to a nursing home to get back on my feet.

“One day I was on a walk near the nursing home when I saw this guy in his uniform with two garbage cans cleaning up the streets. I asked him how I could get a job like this, and he told me to call the Cleanslate number on one of the garbage cans. That’s how it all started. 

“I went home ready to call Cleanslate, but I knew that I couldn’t work eight hours every day because I was staying at the nursing home, which only allowed me to be out of the building for four hours at a time. I called anyway, reached Brett from Cara, and let him know my whole situation. He told me not to panic. 

“Brett helped me start the whole process, first through online training classes. Taking those classes was therapeutic; I liked learning and having something to do every day. Then, when I finally got my chance to move out, I began working at Cleanslate.”

“I’ve always always been good at custodial work and, being diabetic, I thought Cleanslate would be the perfect thing to help me with my exercise.

“I was just so happy to get a paycheck, you know? I just wanted an opportunity to work.”

“As soon as I started working, I gave it my all, no matter the task. Plus, I like being outside and a lot of people appreciate our work. They offer us water when we are sweeping the street in front of their businesses, and they come out to say thank you and good job. It’s really cool.

“One of my proudest moments was when I was on my route in Boystown cleaning up flower pots. People leave bottles and trash in the flower pots all the time, but one time I found somebody’s wallet and iPhone. 

“I went to the apartment building listed on the ID in the wallet and met with the apartment manager, who was able to return everything to the owner. The apartment manager was so appreciative and called my boss, Sam Lovett, to let him know what I did. That was a proud moment for me. I was just doing the right thing.

“I love Cleanslate and the opportunity it’s given me, and my next goal is to find a permanent custodial job. I’m working with Cara to find permanent employment with great hours similar to Cleanslate, because it’s important to me to be there for my family at night.”

Your support ensures that more people like Justin find their new beginning. From now until the end of June, your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar thanks to a generous $15,000 match from a member of our Cara community. Don’t miss the chance to double your impact and give a gift at www.caracollective.org/give.