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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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