Guillermo Carcamo joined Ready, Willing & Working (RWW) in 2015, and has been known fondly as “Little Jerry” by his fellow members of the Capitol Riverfront BID’s Clean and Safe Team ever since. He first learned about the program from his older brother, Gerardo (or “Jerry”), who is the Operations Manager for Capitol Riverfront.
Little Jerry, 28, is originally from Pasadena, California. Spanish was his first language and his parents spoke little English, so he struggled in school. He and his mother “never had the best relationship” when he was growing up, because he “was a dreamer, and she was a realist.” She wanted him to focus on school, but music came more naturally to him. So, Little Jerry took his laid-back California attitude, flowing hair, and rock and hip hop music with him when he moved to Hawaii in 2012.
He says that he “loves Hawaii, but when I was there I didn’t know what I was doing – I had no direction.” He admits that he even sold weed for a time. “I’m not proud of that,” he says. “I got caught up.” He worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, and lost one of them because he came to work drunk. He then lost another job at a coffee shop after being accused of stealing, which he promises he didn’t do. He was frustrated that he wasn’t given the chance to defend himself, and says that the employees were “treated pretty bad. Checks would bounce all the time.” He lost his apartment shortly afterwards, due to problems with his landlord and being unable to pay the rent. “I really scrambled around for a bit,” he says. For a while he couch-surfed with friends, slept on random floors, and even spent a few nights sleeping next to the giraffe pen at the zoo. That’s when he realized that he needed to make a serious change.
Ready, Willing & Working has been a huge growing experience for Little Jerry. “I’m stable for the first time in my life,” he says. His credit score had also really suffered after his difficulties in Hawaii, so the BID and RWW staff helped him open a bank account and obtain a credit card to get back on track. He was then able to move into his own apartment in Yards Park on January 2nd, 2017. To encourage his continued personal development, RWW gave Little Jerry a $1,000 grant to buy furniture. “Picking out my own furniture was surreal,” he says. “It was so gnarly going from sleeping next to a zoo, to having my own bed and apartment. I’m really touched they helped me out, and I appreciate it.”
He says that he loves living in the neighborhood where he works, because he “feels really connected. Like a part of the community.” But he shares that his absolute favorite thing about RWW is “working with other dudes who offer me perspective. These guys tell me about their experiences, and tell me not to make their mistakes, and they really care.”
He even got a second job earlier this year at FMC Construction in order to support his musical aspirations, and loves being able to practice and record music in his apartment. Little Jerry says that his family is very proud of his new apartment and work ethic, especially his mother, and that they have grown closer as a result. Reflecting on the past year and a half, he says, “this whole [RWW] experience has been the opposite of when I lost everything in Hawaii… because here, everything has been on the upswing.”
Little Jerry says that the professionalism of the Ready, Willing & Working program has helped him turn over a new leaf, and has enabled him to become more self-sufficient. “If you’d met me in Hawaii and told me that I would be maturing soon, I would’ve laughed,” he says. “I feel like I’m really growing here!” He dreams of returning to Hawaii someday as the new and improved version of himself. “I’ll go back and do it right,” he says, smiling.