Transformation Stories

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

Brandy’s advice for people who want to make a change? “Recognize who you are and have your own mind when it comes to making life decisions. You can be so influenced by someone you look up to – so influenced by gangs. But I say, what kind of role model really loves you and allows you to go down the same road, make the same mistakes, and destroy your life the same way they did?”

Brandy Harris is soft spoken but tells a powerful story. “In 1996, I lost my brother in a drive-by shooting. I was only 17. His killing really put me in a place where I felt I had to do something personally. I began to have the mentality that I was out for revenge. That’s when I got heavily involved with the gangs.”

She kept her gang involvement a secret. “My family never knew the depths I was participating out there in the streets.” The truth came out during Brandy’s first arrest in 2005. After a series of arrests and sentences, Brady wasn’t released until January 2011.

Homeboy has helped Brandy to become her own role model.

“Homeboy is a big deal. It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big, so unique. I always carry Homeboy with pride. They helped when no one else would believe in me,” she says.

“Yes, I had a high school diploma and an AA degree. But I had a history of violence, a criminal background, things that held me back. I couldn’t pass background checks.

“But the minute I walked through this door, I was welcomed. Homeboy acknowledged my personality and ambition. I knew exactly who I was and I set my goals.

“With Homeboy’s help, trusting and believing me, they always see that I meet those goals. Homeboy, Father G, my staff—everyone here has been wonderful. I want to thank them for giving me the opportunity to improve myself.”

Like many trainees, Brandy began in maintenance, cleaning Homeboy’s main offices and the surrounding community. “They saw the ambition in me,” she says. “So they promoted me part-time in the Homeboy booth at local farmers markets.”

She grew to work full time in the markets, where teams of trainees sell Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café items. She flourished.

“This year I was promoted to lead supervisor,” she says proudly. “I’m happy, content. I have benefits. It’s really a job. They hired me permanently as an official employee.”


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Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

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

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

Carlitos Asegura: Who are we? Homeboys! How long will we run? Forever!

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

James Horton: Compassion in Action

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Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

Damond Johnson: “We Were at Homeboy for the Same Reason”

Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots