Andrew Gutierrez: Prodigal Cycles
Andrew struggled with alcohol and substance abuse since he was 14 years old. One day, after years of being homeless, his eldest son asked him to get help, saying “Dad, I love you, but if you don’t get the help, I don’t want to see you like this anymore.” That was the push Andrew needed to turn his life around. He entered the Tarzana Treatment Center and began to detox and change his life. As part of the Tarzana Transitional Housing Program, he was able to focus on healthy habits, leading him back to a passion he’s always had: building custom bikes. Today, Andrew has been clean and sober for over 4 years and is going strong. He also volunteers his time with non-profits, such as Fleet Street and the Pacific Boys Lodge, teaching teenagers the in-and-outs of bicycle mechanics.
Andrew graduated in the Spring of 2016. Andrew’s company, Prodigal Cycles, builds custom beach cruisers using refurbished bike frames. Andrew hopes to ultimately open his own custom bike shop somewhere in the SoCal area. Prior to joining the program, Andrew‘s addictions and homelessness contributed to him being an absentee father to his 3 young sons. On April 11, 2017, Andrew competed against 21 Pepperdine MBA students and alumni in the BLD Brands Business Model Competition, presenting his custom beach cruiser brand. Now, his sons have witnessed their father turn his life around and boldly compete against graduate students, successfully making it to the final round of the competition.
Omara Bautista: Omara’s Cleaning Service
Omara had a painful and abusive childhood. Around 16, she started using drugs and tried to kill herself. At 19, she had her first daughter, and two years later, she had her second son. Struggling, she tried to commit suicide for the second time, and after she recovered, she promised to never tempt against her life. At 23, she had her third daughter, yet she was still struggling in addiction. She then tried to turn her life around for her babies. She started to go to school and started working as a waitress on the weekend. After having her fourth child, she lost custody of all her babies. She ended up in prison, but came out try changing her life. Still struggling in her addiction, Omara had another baby and returned to prison. That is where she hit her rock bottom. She became determined to turn her life around. Now, Omara’s focus is the love of her kids.
Omara graduated in the Fall of 2016. When she is not at her full-time position with the Giving Keys, she is earning money through her cleaning service. She currently is gaining clients through her contacts at the Giving Keys. As well, Omara has established a partnership with a Santa Monica-based real estate company for weekly property cleanings. The money that Omara has earned from her cleaning service now allows her to visit her children in Palmdale and share a meal with them every weekend. Her ultimate goal is to save enough to build a stable and supportive home and to be reunited with all her children.
Crystal Drayton: Red Fire Tacos
Crystal is a mother of four kids: one boy and three girls. She grew up in a home with an abusive father, thinking her mom was very weak. She always prayed that her mom would leave one day, and it came finally when Crystal was 16 years old. Now that she is older, she can appreciate her labor; she was very strong to endure all that for her family to not be broken up. Crystal was always determined to do something great with her life, but her father always shut down her dreams. One passion she always had was cooking. She loved making people happy through food. Her mother was her main encourager, telling her she would own her own food business one day. Crystal had a hard time believing her mom, while feeling stuck in various jobs. After her mom died, she became committed and joined college courses for Restaurant Management class. She completed the program and received her certificate. Unfortunately, Crystal found herself in an unsafe situation while she was living with her four children in Victorville. She fled to the San Fernando Valley, where she currently resides at the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
Crystal also graduated in the Fall of 2016 and has already been a success with her delicious tacos and fruit salsas. She has booked two weddings and has catered the Sponsor Appreciation Luncheon at her former shelter, San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. In fact, Crystal catered the Spring 2017 Pepperdine Microenterprise graduation ceremony and fed nearly 100 people. When she is not making tacos, Crystal has a full-time job with Ralphs and was recently promoted to Assistant Manager of the deli department.
On May 18, 2017, The San Fernando Rescue Mission honored the Pepperdine Microenterprise Program at their Annual Sponsor Appreciation Luncheon as a valued partnership in their organization. PMEP has accepted six clients from the Rescue Mission over the last two academic terms and will continue to maintain this positive relationship.