Thursday, December 22, 2011

news from a person I admire: Luis Montes MD

Youth ALIVE! saves lives.
Dear Caheri,

Caheri and Tammy hugging
Caheri Gutierrez and Tammy Cloud embrace at Youth ALIVE!'s 20th Anniversary celebration
Back on November 10th, I joined nearly 150 of you in celebrating Youth ALIVE!'s 20th anniversary. It's difficult to express what it felt like to be in that room, particularly after hearing 21-year-old Caheri Gutierrez tell her story.

Three years ago, while stopped at a traffic light in East Oakland, Caheri was shot in the face. It was humbling to hear about her struggles and triumphs. Her story was also a story about Tammy Cloud, who she called "my guardian angel, my hero."

After listening to Caheri talk about Tammy, I couldn't help but reflect on some other heroes from the last two decades: Deane Calhoun, Sherman Spears, Marilyn Harris, the hundreds of Teens on Target youth leaders like Marianne Williams. If you couldn't join us there, I invite you to learn about Youth ALIVE!'s history, learn Caheri's story, and read the poem that Marianne wrote for that night. 
I also hope you'll consider joining me and everyone at Youth ALIVE! in our work to end youth gun violence for good by making a tax-deductible end of year gift.

Wishing you a peaceful new year,
donate buttonLuis Montes, MD 
Youth ALIVE! Board President

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

memories are fresh

As I was looking through my photobucket I clicked into this picture of myself. 
I stared for a good minute and then let out a sigh
sometimes I wish I could go back, sometimes I wish I could look like this.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

my abstract for a grant writing to implement Violence Prevention and Social Skills curriculum


This project will implement a violence prevention and social skills curriculum, it will be a multi-resource, non-profit effort to create a safe community while teaching youth valuable skills, rehabilitate existing trauma damage, build self esteem, and conflict resolution, and create community leaders within the Oakland Unified School District.  

While most youth learn social skills through their everyday interactions with parents and family, it is also very important that educators, adults and peers reinforce the learning. It is important that we recognize that not all children are taught proper behaviors like interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. These behaviors play a major part in building a positive core within a person. Oakland is notoriously known for sky rocketing murder rates, senseless killings, ignorance and a city filled with range. By providing children with a curriculum that focuses at a very young age discussing morally correct skills and violence free relations we can put a stop to the vicious cycle that continues to circulate in Oakland. While there are many root cause of violence in Oakland like media, lack of positive role models, poverty, easy access to guns drugs and alcohol as well as fear we must first address these issues by building recognition to the negative. By making a curriculum like this mandatory youth will learn practice positive behavior, they will reach academic success and there will be school and community wide safety.

Implementing this proposal benefits the county as a whole by promoting positive relations, reducing the amount of violence and increasing educational futures. This means that the county will save money that is being spent on medical trauma care and imprisonment costs. With a curriculum that takes the child from k-12 students will grow to be great communicators, their ability to make socially conscious choices will be strengthened their relations which leads to a positive life and community.

Friday, December 9, 2011

a letter from sarah

this recent letter from Sarah touched my heart, i had to file it.



mi madre me dijo que te vio.. que tu estas trabajando en una organizacion y que estas famosa por haber escrito un libro sobre tu vida. no me soprendio nada de esta....
pero llore cuando lo me dijo ella y ahorita estoy llorando todavia cuando te escirbo esto porque me pone tan feliz que no te puedo describir
ese dia o noche cuando nos reunimos en alameda hace dos o tres anos
ese tiempo yo fue en un parte dificil de mi vida porque mi mente se me perdio... y tu era una de las unicas personas a quien yo pudo llamar. recuerdo cuando un ano antes de eso jana me ha llamado por telefono cuando estaba yo en Charleston y ella me dijo que te paso. yo no supe lo que pensar y solamente llore y estaba confundida por lo que no entendia y todavia nunca he experimentada. pero sentia tan triste de que tu te encontraste en una situacion como eso y que tu bonita y amable misma ha experimentade esa tipo de pena. como dije no sabia lo que hacer de eso o que debia hacer... solamente te pensaba en ti y esperaba que tu estuviera viva y sano y asi.
entonces cuando estabamos hablando esa noche en alameda cuando fuimos para helado y sentabamos en le mesa afuera de esa tienda y hablabamos.. cuando to me dijiste lo que paso esa noche yo no tenia palabras solo podia imaginar lo que has experimentado de lo que me contaste tu.
desde nos conocimos por la primera vez yo siempre veia tan increible que tu eres. no solamente porque tu vida habia sido mas dificil que la mio y tu necesitabas luchar mas para lo que querias tu.. yo veia que tu jugabas el voleibol con mas energia y emocion que nadie que habia conocido antes. pero ademas.. tu me ensenaste tantas cosas cuando estabamos jugando juntos y despues. tu me ensenaste cosas super funny como bailar, como besar! haha, como decir whatitdo hahaha. y tuvimos este tipo de divertido a pesar de nuestras caminos o vidas diferentes..y desde ti yo casi nunca oye ningunas palabras negativas.(aunque yo pienso que recuerdo que yo quejaba mucho..) pero lo que quiero decirte el algo que ahora yo se que tu algo que no pensaba que tenia yo, y puedo entender que es mas dificil entender tu propio poder cuando muchas personas o cosas te dices diferente.. pero lo que estoy tratando de decir es que ese dia cuando hablabamos yo quiso cambiar todas cosas en el mundo que pudieron haber hecho algo como eso a ti... o a los otros ninos o gente quienes tienen bastante poder bastante amor pero todavia les pasaron cosas horribles... anyway... i wanted to say that you have been such an important person in my life and that I haven't read your book or blog ... i have been worried about you, since we saw eachother that day. i worked out my life since then, i was really lost, and i really hoped and knew that you would find a way to share your self your story your wisdom and your love with so many other people or just one who needed it. it brings me to tears to know that you are happy and i just want you to know that you have taught me things and impacted me to be aware, tolerant, empathetic, and positive. and i wanted to write to you in spanish because its like a way of catching up without talking too much! but i am learning spanish like i always used to love the language and still do. just wanted to tell you that my mom told me this and i cried out of happiness for you and all that you have overcome.
i hope you are well!let me know what you think.
love, Sarah

yesterday was a great day

yesterday was a great day , I saw Patricia Taggart.
Patricia Taggart to me is like another angel that was put in my life to mold me into the individual that i am today.
when I was 13 years of age I played volleyball for the Golden Bears of California. On that team i met a volleyball player who i recognized from my elementary and middle school volleyball league.
Sarah and I together on the right.
her name was Sarah Taggart
Sarah was the setter of our team. She was quick, she was skilled she was clutch and she was also one of the sweetest people that I had ever met. Her and I developed a friendship, i mean this girl had such a positive energy a hilarious humor and a sweet soul, just like her mother Patti Taggart.
Patti means alot to me because she gave me and my family a hand. She opened up her doors to me and accepted me and cared for me. She is such a beautiful woman.
playing for Golden Bear meant that i had to travel often, many times from city to city and also to different states.
It also meant that alot of money and time where required... something that my single mother didnt have too much of. 
Patti was like my guardian whenever we would be away. I was very young and I always missed my mom, all of the other mothers on the team where able to fly out with us or join us when we played but because my mother had to work to keep up with bills she was never there. 
So Patti stepped in , she was my cheerleader she gave me pats on the back she would prepare a snack and lunch for me and Sarah. She would invite me over to her beautiful home in the Piedmont area, Sarah and I would have sleepovers where I would teach both Sarah and Patti how to dance. When volleyball practice was over she would give me rides to my house , better yet apartments or duplex's in the hood. She would wait for me to get inside my house until she drove off.

Im just very grateful for this woman because she exposed me to a different lifestyle to a different lingo a different view on life. She never judged me and she always acknowledge me. Thanks to Patti and her family I grew up having a different mindset, much different from the people in my neighborhood. She unknowingly showed me a different side of life.

Years went on and Sarah and I grew apart, went to college and lived a different life.
I stopped playing volleyball and got shot.
maybe I can understand why they became distant.

Anyways its crazy how the universe works, yesterday the story was printed some important people from Childrens Hospital of Oakland came into our office to meet with my director.
I was getting ready to leave the office to go to my Castlemont afterschool program.
Apparently my director gave those people a copy of the story and a woman who was in the room said
" I know this girl I know this girl "
Thats when John my director starting calling my name and said "someone in here wants to say hello."

I walk towards the conference room confused but as soon as i stepped in i saw a face I knew, a face I loved
it was Patti, Patti Taggart.


I Caheri Scarface Gutierrez
am completely overwhelmed
but listen you can be happily overwhelmed or you can be sadly overwhelmed
trying to concentrate on tasks but all i keep thinking about is life
and how crazy it has been for me both good and bad.
the booklet has been published, its a very short 2 page booklet that compresses my story and the work that youth alive does, it has pretty pictures and the colors are vibrant printed on very nice paper. GREAT

people OFFFFFTEENN ask me 
Its almost like they expect to hear that im shy about it, that im uncomfortable, that i want to cry at that very moment, but in reality im not.
I see this project as an amazingly cool thing ,
im actually flattered and whenever i share my story i feel comfortable
i feel the URGE.

my experience was traumatizing, actually it continues to traumatize me, terrorize me, scandalize me and scare me
but with all that mess , there needs to be order
there needs to be a solution so others wont ever have to feel this way.

so i ask myself why do i feel this way?
ive realized that i still continue to suffer from PTSD
(post traumatic stress disorder)

im stressed , depressed but well dressed
i cant put the pieces of the puzzle together but at the same time im happy.
im on a high right now 
the situations that i have experienced while working at Youth Alive
are one of the BEST experiences
they have enlightened me , empowered me , taught me , loved me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

it feels good to be called PRETTY ,dont it ?

Ive been needing to do a shoot for caheri's closet. This time i was thinking a little optimistic. 
I want to take pictures of girls modeling the clothes, the girls who i want to participate are ideally girls from Oakland, girls from the hood.
Why might Iwant this specific group of girls?
because , growing up in oakland ive known alot of girls who are very much part of that " i dont give a fuck" lifestyle, wearing hoodies and jordans and hair tied in a bun. 

In reality these girls arent ugly in fact they are gorgeous. Deep down inside I know they wish they could be all fancy but some of their peers or neighborhood wont allow them to explore that. 
I think its necessary. 

It all struck me when i was at the mall shopping at a girly store and this girl from the hood said "hey caheri wasup!" I looked up and realized it was her, in her hoodie and sneakers.
I said "hey pretty girl"  
immediately her eyes lit up and she couldn't help but smile. I realized then that these girls dont get told theyre pretty too often. 
why not? because in our town its more important to be hard, know how to throw a punch and be respected,have street credibility opposed to being classy and educated.

I speak from experience , when i was asked to become a model for a clothing line back when i was in my "i dont give a fuck" stage , I couldn't believe it. It empowered me , it made me feel so good about myself.
I want to give that feeling to these beautiful girls who DESERVE attention, theyve been through so much actin' like soldiers, its time they get pampered and appreciated and let their guards down and just smile.

Any ways we need to get this party started because people have been requesting more pictures of the clothes and accessories im selling, but because my daily schedules are packed i havent gotten around it.
I have some girls in mind already , but if you feel like you would like to suggest someone or become a Caheri's Closet model PLEASE feel free to contact me

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20,2011

Im trying to play it cool and talk about other shit to convince myself that this day isnt that important to me, but i cant help to stop and deep think every time i look at my hands and feet or even catch a glance of myself in the mirror. Im here alive, two hands and two feet. This is a day i wont ever be able to forget. In fact this day brings up alot of traumas for me. More than anything im grateful to have life. Not only did i survive on this day but i was also rebirthed, what i mean is that ever since the incident i became a totally different person, for the better. Im far from perfect, i do struggle alot with my self esteem, and sometimes i drink until i feel like im going to pass out.
There are tools that were given to me since that day, and i use those tools everyday to build a new life for myself and the people around me.
I owe alot of people thanks, starting off with acmc highland hospital and the surgeous who literally reconstructed my face. I also thank my family for supporting till this day,they are my rock and motivation. I thank tammy cloud for being an angel, for being a mother to me an inspiration and a support. I thank ups , juicy couture and youth alive for not judgin me on my horrible monster looks and employing me, that helped me out a lot. I thank kevin grant for believing in me and connecting me with people, jim o'brien for writing my story and being good friend, and to my students who continue to teach me something new and inspire me.
Life is different now, but my story doesnt end with a broken heart and sadness it actually begins again with a new vision on life ,with gratitude and with relentless passion for a bright future for myself and the people around me.
Of course i almost forgot, i wanted to thank the person who shot me.
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

My biggest hardest struggle

Is my insecurity, fuck my jaw fuck my mash potatoe face, fuck that day.
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street girl turned into Youth Alive community leader

At certain points in my life I thought of myself as a leader. More often when I was younger and active proposing to the school officials to open up our dream school TCN  (Think College Now). As the only student on the design team I helped a group of parents and educators convince the city of Oakland. It empowered me at age 9.

In 2003 Puberty hit and I no longer focused on grades but instead on good looks and gangsters. I wanted to be bad-ass along with my older brother " G " who was a gang banger terrorizing the city of Oakland once (Now my brother is facing prison time) . At school I lead my classmates I answered every question before our teacher could even finish asking and i would complete my homework before everyone else. But as soon as i would touch my east Oakland block , all of the stuff that I learned in school would fly out of mind.

In Oakland it was cool to "be with the shit" to "not give a fuck" "money over bitches" in my case "money over broke n*iggas" or even to bang our set on foo's. I liked that lifestyle that my brother was living, but then our friends started getting shot and even dying.

Ive been traumatized by violence since I can remember, when i was 12 my brothers little homie " lil guero" who was also my classmate was shot in the stomach with two ak47 assault riffles. My brother said that by the time they carried him into highland hospital "lil guero's" intestines had already fell out of his stomach and he was no longer breathing. He died in a friends hands. Only 12 years old both him and I. This street game started to become a street reality.

2006 came around the corner and already about 10 of my brother and my friends had been murdered. That year in October I almost lost my brother. While leaving a Halloween party on High St in Oakland my brother was shot in the head and then jumped by rival gang members , as i tried to get the perpetrators off of my brother , i took a beat too. I was left on the floor bloody next to my brothers unconscious body. Trauma.

In 2008 I was caught in the crossfire at a light on 98th ave and San Leandro in Oakland Ca. That night i became a direct victim of gun violence taking a near fatal bullet to the face. I woke up medicated, dazed, hands tied to the hospital bed,  jaw less, toothless and a tracheotomy tube stabbed into my throat. Also a with an unfamiliar woman at my bedside. She said she worked for Youth Alive as an intervention specialist and that her name was Tammy Cloud.

Tammy was instrumental to my healing process both physically and mentally, she supported me and gave me faith that i could be normal again, that I could return to be the focused community leader that I once was. I now work with Tammy for Youth Alive as the Violence Prevention Educator. My expertise in gun,gang,family,dating violence makes an impact when connecting and educating the youth. Although the trauma is fresh just as much as the scars are, ive found that I heal through this work. Knowing that I might impact these kids and make them think twice about the consequences, knowing that i can give my experience as a tool for them, knowing that i might prevent a kid from taking those risk's satisfies me in a way that no other can. As long as I am able to I will empower the youth as much as these community leaders empowered me.

laugh out loud with me!

As I was searching my name on google this came up EMBARRASSING! 
this is me singing karaoke at a local restaurant

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


if you need style ideas or more pictures regarding items
holler at us at

dear diary

what the heck is up ?
i havent reported in a while , theres just been to much happening that i havent had the time to sit down,open a window and type. SIGH
so ... LIFE
life is good i guess? No it is I cant complain.
So I went to Chicago from Oct 12 through the 15 for a training to become a certified Master Trainer for a curriculum i teach named Safe Dates.

I had such an amazing time in Chicago. Not only did i enjoy the beautiful city and its architecture but i also learned alot from the actual training. I feel honored and fortuitous to have been given the opportunity to accomplish that in my young life. But guess what ... the DEEP DISH PIZZA AND POPCORN SUCKED! yea stone me chicago people but i just completely disagree i think mr. pizza man in downtown oakland actually has better thin crust pizza than you guys. lol!
Of course I shop shopped in chi town. I had a great time.

Be back later , I have a meeting with Jim O'Brien! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

conversations of trachea scarred humans

Report :Yesterday
I have a trach scar too...
Report · 11:56am
thats tight , wr different
Report · 12:08pm
Wr different? Why did you get yours?
Report · 12:09pm
i got shot in my face and couldnt breath thru my nose and you?
Report · 12:10pm
That's hella crazy. I'm sorry to hear that. I know, you probably hear that a lot, but you survived! Me, not as drastic. I was in a coma for a month.
Report · 12:10pm
wow , thats drastic why wr you in a coma?
Report · 12:11pm
I had my wisdom teeth pulled and got hella sick from the dentist. I was in SF GH for 52 days. How or why did you get shot? Stray? Accident? Purpose? 
Report · 12:19pm
are you serious you went into a coma becasue of your wisdom teeth? thats fucking insane
i was on the way to work and a random car pulled up and started shooting , unfortunately i was the one who receive the bullet.
Report · 12:26pm
That's crazy, I bet you were like "WTF! WTF! Really? I got shot in the face?" I can't imagine dude. But you look so gorgeous regardless, I didn't even realize anything. I just saw your scar, and I was like whoa. Not every day you meet people with trach scars. Did you find out who did it? Did you forgive them?
Report · 12:31pm
right thats why i said we are different , people who have trach scars are special , we go thru alot of judgment and people staring at sucks sometimes, but i never found out who did it and yes i would forgive them if i ever found out , but i will never forget. 
Report · 12:34pm
Oh, I thought you were saying we are different, as in me and you. Lol I was like, definitely. You went through chaos. Me, I just took a nap. Haha. I bet this changed your life, and you're like a rocket now. 
Report · 12:36pm
thats a good way to put it , i do feel like a rocket now , i got another chance to live i make the most of ever second that i get, no seriously being in a coma is terrifying for me, your blessed man. im glad you made it thru

one day

Friday, October 7, 2011


was it my body or was it my face
or was it my intellect that once drove you insane? 
I need to know.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 picture is worth 1000 words

You see I died in November of 2008.

It runs in the family

my favorite uncle Armando

This picture was taken this year for his 62nd birthday in the penitentiary
Most of my relatives have done time in the pen , which scares me. We grew up knowing and seeing this
(me and my brother) Although i love all of my uncles, i hope my brother doesnt go in that direction.
My bro has court again this Wednesday, im keeping my fingers crossed for a good deal.
the last time i talked to my brother on the phone he sounded so hopeless.
I love my brother with all of my existence, i hope he gets the chance he deserves.