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Former Prison Gang Member Gets Fresh Start Thanks To Tattoo-Removal Program

by Roxy Garrity
Roxy is a reporter and writer for LittleThings. Born in North Carolina, she graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Florida, and now lives in Manhattan. She's drawn to uplifting stories that inspire her audience, and she has interviewed a range of compelling public figures, such as President Obama and Taylor Swift. She loves live music, yoga, art, traveling, all animals, and meeting new people. Send her your story ideas or just say hi!

Johnny Velazco was only 18 when he went to prison. “There was a new gang starting inside prison,” said Velazco, and he was recruited to join. As part of the initiation, Johnny received two teardrop tattoos on his left cheekbone. Velazco said, “I was very naive and really I wasn’t thinking about the consequences.”

Velazco, who is 43 years old now, blames the permanent marks on his face as the reason he’s been jobless since his release from prison more than a decade ago.

“They (employers) are looking at my teardrop. They think I’m a murderer,” said Velazco.

Dr. David Ores, General Practitioner and Founder/Director of the Fresh Start Tattoo Removal Program was inspired to help people like Velazco. Dr. Ores said, “The idea is remove the tattoos off their face so they can get jobs.”

Through a friend, Johnny heard about Dr. Ores, who looks like your typical doctor while wearing his white coat, but underneath his arms are covered in tattoos, as most his friends are tattoo artists. He started the Fresh Start Tattoo Removal Program with a laser in his office, but when that broke and he couldn’t afford to replace it, he recruited other doctors to offer this life-changing service that only takes a few seconds per treatment.

“I started getting friends of friends who had friends who had post-prison tattoos mostly teardrops on their face and they couldn’t work and they asked if I could help them out. It took me only 12 to 14 seconds to help them, so I did,” said Dr. Ores.

The program has helped hundreds like Johnny, but there are 1,200-plus people currently on the waitlist.

“I thought I was really going to die with these teardrops. I had no hope and thought I would have to start selling drugs again,” said Velazco.

Johnny still needs a few more laser tattoo-removal treatments, but he’s confident that with a fresh face, he’ll have a fresh start at finding a job.

Please SHARE this story, and for more information about the program or to help Dr. Ores get a new laser, visit his website: Fresh Start Tattoo Removal Program

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