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Tremaine Shares Why Being a Dad Saved His Life

Tremaine, top row center, Cara and Cleanslate Class of June 2019

To honor 30 years of Cara’s work to eradicate poverty, we are sharing stories of the participants, partners, and people who made our past, present, and future possible. For the month of June, we are celebrating stories of hope, jobs, and opportunity.

“Before Cara, I’m not going to lie, I was lost. I was on the street. Not homeless, but living the street life and arrested for two crimes, one right after the other. I got a letter in the mail about joining Cara to keep my SNAP benefits.

“I had sold drugs before, so what did I care about the benefits? Well, I needed it for my son – he was able to eat off the SNAP card. My baby has to eat; that’s why I originally came to Cara. But I chose to stay at Cara because I wanted to change my life.

“The first week of Transformations classes, I was intrigued. Mr. Jesse’s class opened me up, and I needed to open my eyes and see myself.

“I realized conflict management was my biggest problem, something I hadn’t seen. Another struggle was how I used to live for the day and couldn’t see the next month. Now I think ahead and know I can’t relax. I used to relax a lot.

“To learn these skills, I started working at Cleanslate. I didn’t have six months of recent work history at the time, and I needed one or two more things checked off Cara’s competency list. So I showed up and showed out at Cleanslate. Then, I got a call from Liz, one of Cara’s Corporate Account Managers, and I almost cried on the phone when she told me about a job opportunity.

“I was hired at a restaurant from July 2019 all the way up until March 2020 when I was furloughed because of the pandemic. In the meantime, I worked with Cara Connects in a temporary position. After a while, Kelly from Cara proposed a new opportunity to work for Tovala, but I shut it down completely.

“My big concern was making the transition into the new role. I didn’t want to adjust, and so I shut everybody down. I was doubting myself and blaming other people for how I felt. Then I realized that if I think I can’t do it, I automatically won’t. I started telling myself that I could so I would.

“When I got the job at Tovala, I was like a sponge. I learned how to operate a power jet and drive a forklift. They love me and I love them. I can feel it when I walk through the door. Tovala got to know me and that makes me happy. They know I get stuff done, and there’s a lot of respect.

“I look back today and think about how much being a dad saved my life. The only reason I came to Cara was to feed my son. I never would have committed to Cara or gotten my job at Tovala if it weren’t for him.

Read our Q&A with Tremaine’s employer and Cara Collective partner, Tovala, to learn why the company joined forces with us and how our participants show up and show out on the job every day.

Your support ensures more stories like Tremaine’s will be told in our next 30 years. Please click here to consider making a gift. Plus, for the month of June, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $30,000 thanks to our friends at The Owens Foundation.