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.”


Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots

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

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

Miguel Avila: “I Don’t Want to Let Myself Down”

Erika Vargas: The Small Word That Means Everything

Brazil Jackson: “laugh a little harder, live a little longer”

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”

Orsy Jerez: Finding an Open Door

Valerie Copeland: “Homeboy is a place where it is ok to be myself”

Will Lopez: “I’ve had my second chance here—and my third, and my fourth”

James Horton: Compassion in Action

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

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

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

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

Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

Jermaine Smith: “There’s nothing else like this”

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity

Amie Zuniga: How an Accidental Transformation Led to a Life of Purpose

Lami Glenn: “Their generosity is what drives me”

Evan Hess: Father’s Day, every day

Dorene Macias: parenting and paying it forward

Juan Marquez: Constructing Confidence

Gabriel Lopez - Two generations in gangs, two generations of change

Jose Arellano - Lost and found