Former addict receives funding to run nonprofit to help Utahns clear criminal records

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — The power of perseverance has played out for one woman who now runs an organization helping others clear their criminal records.

Just five years ago, Destiny Garcia was homeless and addicted to drugs.

Today, she’s sober and is the executive director of the non-profit organization Clean Slate Utah, which assists people expunge their criminal records.

“I mean it is a big position especially coming from being homeless five years ago,” Garcia said. “I’m somebody who’s directly impacted, I had a criminal record, it’s all been expunged but I know the barriers someone faces.”

Garcia is a single mother, who has gone from being homeless and addicted to sober and a rising star in the community.

“I’m loud, I’ve always been loud, but this is the stuff I need to be loud about is helping people get second chances and the program that we’re running, to help people,” Garcia said.

But running a non-profit program like that takes money, which is something Garcia has been influential in raising.

Last year, the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation donated $5,000 to Clean Slate Utah.

After Garcia came on board and the foundation heard her personal story, the foundation donated $200,000.

“To be given the opportunity to sit down with somebody that big in our community and to look them in the eye and have a wholesome conversation, I think is what did it,” Garcia said.

Garcia says the money will allow her to hire more staff and get the word out and educate people that the expungement law exists.

“Destiny’s story was particularly impactful for those individuals who sit on the board of trustees of the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation,” said Sarah Starkey, the chief legal officer for the Larry H. Miller Company.

Starkey says the foundation decided to make such a substantial donation in part because they know 1 in 3 people in Utah have a criminal record–which is more than 800,000 people–and they believe this donation will have a generational impact on those people who have an opportunity to have a clean slate.

“The Miller family, particularly Brilliant and Heather Dawn, believe that this donation will have a generational impact on those people who have an opportunity to have a clean slate,” Starkey said.

And if anyone has proven they know how to wipe the slate clean, it’s Garcia.

“I knew I could be something great, even five years ago, I had no idea I could be what I am today,” she said.

For recovery resources, visit the Addicted Utah resources page.

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