Glass Half Full Award: Perry Clark
GAR Foundation is thrilled to present Perry Clark, president and founder of Truly Reaching You, with the 2022 Glass Half Full Award. The Glass Half Full Award was initially created to honor GAR’s former president Rob Briggs. The award annually recognizes a Summit County community leader for inspiring and optimistic leadership of a nonprofit organization.
In his role as the president of Truly Reaching You (TRY), Perry works to rehabilitate previously incarcerated men in Summit County. TRY program participants receive the means for financial self-sufficiency through TRY’s employment skills training program, which offers men hands-on training in four high-demand work fields: lawncare and landscaping; housing rehabilitation and construction; commercial cleaning; and hauling and manual labor. They also receive counseling, spiritual support, food and clothes and toiletry items, as well as transportation.
Born and raised in Akron, Ohio, Perry graduated from Garfield High School. His mission and life’s work began after he was released from prison.
“When I got out in July 1997, I had to make a choice, and I made it on the inside — this was not the lifestyle I wanted,” he said. “When I was released, I did some volunteering, and in that process, I realized there was no help for men coming out of prison. I saw too many leave and return to prison because they had no work backgrounds and skills. I worked for years in carpentry, and while I was in prison I worked on rehabbing homes.”
Perry is currently in his 23rd year of running one of the most successful re-entry programs for men in Summit County.
We interviewed Perry to learn more about his work, his life, and why his glass is always full.
What is one thing you want everyone to know about Truly Reaching You?
That Truly Reaching You (TRY) works! I started TRY in 1999 and for 23 years we have been building our community one man at a time. In Ohio, on average, one out of every three men who are released from prison returns to prison. Recidivism ruins lives and families, costs all of us money, and is an endless miserable cycle. At TRY, we’ve served hundreds of men. Of the men who have worked at least three months with us, half do not return to prison. With just three months of our program, we can cut the recidivism rate in half. More than 100 men have completed our 12-month program. Of those men, only one has returned to prison. TRY works!
What excites you most about the population you serve?
TRY works because we put the men to work – teaching them the work skills and life skills they need. And when they leave here, we’re excited to see them not return to their old lifestyle. Instead, they return to family. They return to church. They return to being men who contribute to our community.
What is one language you’ve always wanted to learn and why?
French. In elementary school, we were learning French and I like my name being pronounced Poire.
What is your strategy for cutting a cake?
It’s all about balance when it comes to the size of each slice.
What is one thing you would do if failure wasn’t an option?
Take Truly Reaching You national. We’ve shown hundreds of men in Ohio that change for the good can take place. I’d like to show thousands.
Tell us something about Truly Reaching You that sparks joy for you.
We get to see men transformed. And then families transformed. And then neighborhoods transformed.
Why is the glass always half full?
Half full? It’s at least always half full. And there is always room for more.