Transformation Stories

Rasheena Buchanan: “You can’t get this kind of love anywhere else”

Rasheena Buchanan has walked the walk. “I was in community college, I had a scholarship to USC. Then my mother passed away.” Things quickly spiraled out of control for her. “Instead of going to college, I went to prison,” she says.

Rasheena first came to Homeboy Industries after her release in 2012. She’d finished her degree while incarcerated, but because of her background, many doors were still closed to her. “I knew I had to be here. Homeboy was so accepting of me after every other place I had been. After I heard no so many times, Homeboy said yes, and we’ll support you with open arms.”

But addiction stood in the way of her transformation. “Working on myself brought up a lot of subconsciously buried issues,” she says. “Getting through it was tough, and I relapsed. Instead of kicking me out, Homeboy sent me to inpatient rehab for 90 days. I went AWOL from rehab and then was incarcerated for a crime.”

When Rasheena was released a second time, she underwent rehab for a year and Homeboy accepted her back. This time she was ready to make the change. She worked as an administrative assistant in various departments and as a clerk assistant for legal services. Then she received an off-site internship at Project 180, a forensic treatment agency which offers comprehensive diversion and re-entry programs to offenders. “After two months, they offered me a job,” Rasheena says proudly. “I've been a case manager there for six months now.”

Rasheena has many duties. “I work with clients who are chronically homeless. They face polysubstance abuse issues and have no life skills. I’m working with people who have long histories of incarceration, who don't really know how to function as a normal human being in society. I work with them starting from scratch. We get them an ID card, find them sober living and rehab, help with family reunification if possible. We provide support and help them work on their coping skills.” In addition to her duties as a case manager, Rasheena also facilitates an anger management group and arts and crafts classes.

The experiences she had at Homeboy gave Rasheena the tools she now needs as a case manager at Project 180. “I couldn't do my job without Homeboy. Because of the skills I learned here, I now have the coping tools I need.”

Rasheena advises new trainees at Homeboy Industries to stay open minded. “They have to be receptive to wanting to change. They need to remember that if it feels uncomfortable, they’re probably going in the right direction. They have to keep coming, to stick and stay, and to take advantage of all the services available here. You can’t get this kind of love anywhere else.” Most importantly, she adds, “Stay humble. Remember humility goes a long way.”


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Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

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