Go Back

Pernorris overcomes his past and builds his future

Pernorris, a Cara and Cleanslate graduate who started his journey with us in November 2010, shares his journey of overcoming his past and realizing it does not define his future.

“I wasted so many years in the streets, ripping and running, doing illegal stuff, stupid stuff. I was just ready for a change and wanted to do something that was meaningful to me, something that brought value to me. I found out about Cara through my brother. I just wanted a job so I could get up and out of here.

“Cara opened my eyes to a lot of things. One lesson really stood out to me. Miss Vicki had a lesson where she took someone who was a 20-something, someone who was a 30-something, and someone who was a 40-something. The 40-year-old had the knowledge, the 30-year-old was still learning, and the 20-year-old didn’t know anything. She taught us that if the 30-year-old can soak up knowledge from the 40-year-old, he can teach it to the 20-year-old so that he won’t be in the same position as the other two. Basically, the lesson told me to look to those older than me, soak up that knowledge, and pass it on. If you pass it on, maybe you can stop somebody from making the same mistake that I made. That’s stuck with me to this day. It has been more than 11 years since I was at Cara, but I’ve never forgotten that lesson.”

A learning experience, a humbling experience

“I went to work for Cleanslate, which was a learning experience, a humbling experience. We were in Uptown. I was doing my route, and I saw somebody that I knew. I was like, ‘Oh man, I can’t let them see me doing this.’ I was embarrassed. When I saw them walk past, I had my head down so they couldn’t see my face. The guy recognized me and said, ‘Man, how did you get this job? Hook me up!’ We got to talking, and not once did who I used to be come up. I went from being ashamed to being proud because he was trying to do what I was doing now.”

They knew I would do it right

“I used to wonder why I kept getting the hard assignments at Cleanslate. One day, it occurred to me that maybe they gave me the hard work because they knew I would do it right. Maybe I was getting those jobs because they had enough faith in me to know it’s going to be done the right way. Once I realized that, the job became so much easier. I started to see a lot more; I started to learn a lot more. People were watching that I didn’t know were watching me. I’ve been gone 11 years, and I still get calls from Cleanslate. More than a thousand people at Cleanslate have come after me, and yet what I was doing still stands out to this day. I take a lot of pride in that.”

Look with new eyes

“For a lot of years, I’ve allowed myself to be comfortable where I’m at. Over the last couple years, I’ve been shaken out of that box and trying to look with new eyes. I’m pushing myself to do what I think I should, go where I think I should be, and reach for what I think I should have. I’m getting to the age where my heart is starting to turn more toward me finding a way to do what I enjoy doing and what I love doing rather than doing it because it’s a job.

“What really drives my heart is photography. More or less traveling and just taking pictures of whatever captures my eye. That moment in time that you captured, you can look at it, you can study it, you can see the small details. That moment will never be again, and you captured that moment. It’s something I love doing.”

You can’t put that into words

“People may see and read my story, but what they don’t see is the impact that I’ve made on other people’s lives. They don’t see the impact I’ve made on my kids’ lives, on my cousins, on my friends, on strangers that I’ve talked to, on people that I have been able to show a different way. I’m one person, but 10,000 may have been helped because Cara helped me. You can’t put that into words.

Your support ensures more stories of transformation like Pernorris’ will be told in our next 30 years. Please consider making a gift of any amount to fuel this work. Thank you for your generosity.