Charles' Story

Charles Head Shot

I grew up in Las Vegas, and my mom passed away when I was 11. Both my parents instilled in me the desire to treat everyone right and do the right thing. My father and I moved to Portland 30 years ago, with the hope of finding my long-lost sister. And we did!

Later, I got into some trouble and spent 17 years in prison. I did the time, but the time didn’t do me. I took college courses and did clerical work. I had an interest in massage, facials, and cutting hair, and while in prison I received my cosmetology license.

I was homeless for 18 months after leaving prison. During that time I was in and out of Burnside Projects (now Transition Projects), and one day, a man named Larry Turner asked me if I’d like to join a men’s group. That group helped me reintegrate into society. He asked what skills I had, and when I told him I was a cosmetologist, he said Transition Projects needed a barber!

I got sober and got housing, and in 2009 I began cutting hair at Transition Projects. In the past four years alone, I’ve cut hair for over 2,200 participants! When I cut people’s hair in the Resource Center, I model a positive attitude and show them the love and kindness I received. I have also completed the Mentor Program and received a Peer Support Specialist certificate. Being a mentor has made me feel like an inspiration. All of the help Transition Projects gave me empowered and inspired me to give back.