Ex-gang members turning their lives around through a Bakersfield non-profit

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - One Bakersfield organization is transforming the lives of people who once had gang-ties.

"We needed money and we just tried to find the easy way to get money, and the easy way is not always the good way," said Jose Andrade.

Andrade was incarcerated for four years for car theft and gang participation. At first he thought he was destined to live a life out on the streets.

"In prison we have a lot of respect, for everything we do, but when we're out here, we don't," said Andrade.

But while he was locked up, he learned about Garden Pathways, a non-profit in Kern County that teaches people of all ages how to live productive lives.

"Changing the way I dress, the way I speak to people, I'm more open with people."

Andrade has been in the program for about three months, and already has a job with the Bakersfield Homeless Center and Cal-trans, picking up litter off the highways he once used to commit crimes on.

"My days are wonderful, I wake up in the morning, drink my cup of coffee, go to work, I'm at work all day, come home, and just live the family life," said Andrade

Garden Pathways mentors realize just how far he has come.

"First time having a paid job that he's really proud of and purchasing his own vehicle, and making his mother proud," says mentor specialist Dyann Barrientos.

Hundreds of people have gone through this program, and organizers don't expect it to slow down in the future.


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