Jose Romero is originally from east LA, where he grew up and lived before moving to Los Lunas, NM, in his mid-forties for a job opportunity with his nephew. After a short time in New Mexico, he ventured north to Trinidad, CO, where he’s lived the last six years. Jose arrived in Trinidad right as it started to re-blossom, creating exciting opportunities for him and his wife.
When Jose first arrived in Trinidad, finding work was challenging because most job opportunities were tied to the federal or county government. Jose wasn’t eligible for most jobs due to his past with the judicial system. As a result, Jose made himself available to a multitude of jobs that were willing to hire him. “I wanted to show that I wasn’t afraid of hard work.” While working in the restaurant industry as a cook, Jose developed a passion for cooking and running a restaurant, and that led him to start Ghetto Dias, a catering company that he and his wife run. Concurrently, he also started his own janitorial business and was able to contract with the two car dealerships in town exclusively.
It took about a year to secure the catering business and make money; during that time, the janitorial business covered most of his expenses, and then he got a call from RMMFI Program Coordinator Dawn Richards about joining RMMFI’s Business Launch Boot Camp. “RMMFI gave me a lot of confidence. When I first started my businesses, all of the legal stuff was intimidating, and RMMFI helped build my confidence to walk in these buildings (that I had to get my licensing at) like I had a sense of belonging. After completing the program, I didn’t feel inferior to anyone.”
Jose completed RMMFI’s program this past summer and has since been a supportive partner and participant of the Clean Slate Academy*, run by Clean Slate Colorado, after being nominated by RMMFI. “I’ve had numerous experiences with the judicial system, and I’ve had to hustle because of the marks on my record. The Clean Slate Academy will help me understand the ins and outs of the judicial system so I can help others navigate it and show that it’s possible. It holds a whole lot more weight, and my stories are more credible than someone who hasn’t spent any time in prison. I just want to give back to a community that has given me and my family so much.” Jose says moving to Trinidad changed his life for the better: “In a city of millions, I felt meaningless; Trinidad gave me purpose and allowed me to feel seen and connected to a community.”
You can follow Ghetto Dias on Instagram to contact them or find out where they will be cooking in the community.
*The Clean Slate Academy is a 4-session program over the course of 5 weeks where legal experts like judges and lawyers help convicted felons navigate the Colorado Judicial System, know their rights, and seal their records if applicable. Data shows that over 70% of people who attempt to navigate this independently give up because the process can be nuanced and complicated if you aren’t an expert. Click here to learn more or support Clean Slate Colorado.