Randolph Haro demonstrates how strength can mean many things in life and be tested innumerable ways. Upon meeting Randy, as he prefers to be called, the first thing that comes across is his well spoken, humble nature, relaxed, and solid professional at all times. With a reserved smile, his gentle spirit seems to emanate pure joy in the simple things in life, like family, Dodger games and finding treasures at garage sales. A well educated, dexterous, polite, slightly modest new fixture of the ROC Santa Monica office building, Randy seems as Southern Californian as sunshine and celebrities.
The ever socially responsible ROC contacted Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization that assists with job placement among a host of other good deeds, to fulfill a position not quite defined for their own relatively new corporate office center in Santa Monica that opened September 2012. Randy is proudly a graduate of the Chrysalis program and jumped at the opportunity to be a jack of all trades for ROC. As a right hand man to Nicolas Mason, Operations Director at ROC Santa Monica, he not only handles keeping the office pristine, is a concierge for special events and does security as required. Forming relationships with tenants is a highlight making each day brighter for Randy since he was hired on full time (with benefits) for ROC Santa Monica. Finding a team player is a gift, a diamond in the rough, on who is not only dedicated to the mission of the company but is also grateful to do whatever it takes for the best interest of the whole. It’s not simply that Randy came to this opportunity at ROC despite the unemployment rate, and is Captain Quality for the ROC team, it is the against all odds story that inspires us all, makes you grateful for what you have, and proves the eternal triumph of good versus evil in life.
Fortunately, not many of us could fathom growing up without parents. This was the situation Randy found himself in at the age of 7, left for siblings to raise him, shelter, clothe and see to the completion of his education. With one younger brother, (age 1), an older brother (age 13) and two teen sisters, guidance, reassurance, and virtually all hope left his household with his alcoholic parents after their separation at this tender and impressionable age . The siblings are all still very close to this day, their journey being more of an epic crusade. Randy praises his sister highly for all of her mothering abilities as a replacement during this time and still playfully refers to her as his “sister-mom”. The demands of adulthood upon all the children in the household were overwhelming as only most could imagine. The only option for the “men” of the house was to continue on the pursuit of adopting the gang “family” and code of life. A path Randy’s older brother had already started down and groomed him to follow. Preying on the vulnerable and procuring, grooming family members for gangs is how they are able to continue to prevail today. Inherent in the gang lifestyle is a perception of ultimate protection, a brotherhood that will in fact, turn on you in the blink of an eye.
Most of us have an understanding of gangs through how they are portrayed in the media (or in movies like Colors), but those scenarios are often about “someone else”, too horrific to think about, and most cases are shrugged off as lost causes. For Randy’s life, gangs were the only life, and his story played out accordingly ending with a 27 year prison term, which was the only destination of the path he chose. Starting in the Youth Authority, surrounded by violence and apathy, misguided power, manipulation of fear, and coercion is a direct path to jail. The prison sentence handed down was admittedly by Randy deserved, and the opportunity to face the end of the road and change course became crystal clear, with some assistance from God as well.
A lot has changed since the day Randy began his prison sentence, just think about the technology, and the way we conduct business today compared with the 1980’s, it could only be daunting. Surprisingly, or not, the praise Randy has for the correction system, the Parole board and his family’s support is endless. The opportunities, education, vocational training, counseling and therapy that the correction system offers is top notch and expansive, but only for those that choose to accept the help. His political opinion and societal perspectives are strong and introspective. When asked if everyone deserves a second chance, he humbly acknowledges ROC’s participation in the brighter future ahead with excitement, but admits that every day we are given choices, the power to accept responsibility for your actions is a moment by moment event; you must answer your own higher power and face yourself in the mirror each day.
Eager for the opportunity to learn, grow, have meaningful relationships and deter other at risk youth from the same fate creates an ever present glow behind his serious spectacles on this second journey in his life. Randy’s re-acclimation into society is a success story that proves the justice system can be just, there are always opportunities around the corner, and with companies that think like ROC does, whose mission is support the ultimate potential in others a hand up is not a hand out. Today in the sparkling clean, energized, hip offices of ROC Santa Monica, you will find Randolph Haro armed with a laptop and a warm smile instead of a gun.