Esteemed youth mentor receives pardon and glowing support for years of community service
Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today announced the pardon of Dondrae Lamont "Choo" Fair. Since 2009, Mr. Fair has worked with Volunteers of America and has counseled youth and families in Multnomah County on the Gang Impacted Family Team. Mr. Fair's application for clemency is supported by several community members, including victims of his crime, the officer who investigated and arrested him, and Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, whose office prosecuted Mr. Fair.
“Over the past ten years, Mr. Fair has dedicated his life to serving the community by mentoring and being an inspiration to youth and young adults," Governor Brown said. "Mr. Fair's own history of overcoming personal challenges and turning away from gang life lends him the credibility to be such an impactful role model to the young men he mentors. The broad and impassioned support his clemency application garnered reflects the standing Mr. Fair rightly earned as a pillar of the community."
In 1992, at the age of 19, Mr. Fair carried out a carjacking that did not cause any physical injuries to the victims. Mr. Fair pleaded guilty to Robbery in the First Degree, Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, and Theft in the First Degree. After serving his prison sentence, Mr. Fair returned to gang activity until a life-altering accident in 2000, when he was shot in the chest leaving the funeral of a childhood friend. This proved to be the impetus to turning his life around. He left behind gang life, began focusing on his family, and eventually married his wife, Terresa.
In 2009, Mr. Fair began volunteering as a peer mentor in the Community Partners Reinvestment Project for Volunteers of America. Mr. Fair was hired full-time two years later, and his work at Volunteers of America remains focused on young men he describes as "fresh out of prison." Currently, Mr. Fair serves as Lead Mentor for Volunteers of America's Gang Impacted Family Team (GIFT). He also facilitates empowerment and accountability therapy for young men that permits early parole upon successful completion of the nine-month program.
“Mr. Fair's positive support to gang affected youth and young adults is exceptionally noteworthy,” District Attorney Underhill wrote in a letter to Governor Brown. “Mr. Fair uses his lived experience to educate others and encourage them not to make the same mistakes he made. These circumstances are extraordinary, Mr. Fair's commitment to change and system reformation is genuine, and I and involved members of my office fully support the executive pardon of Mr. Fair's Robbery in the First Degree conviction.”
In addition to his Volunteers of America work, Mr. Fair also serves as the Gang Intervention Specialist on the Steering Committee for the Black Male Achievement Sector for the City of Portland's Office of Equity and Human Rights. To further his work, Mr. Fair is in the early stages of starting a namesake non-profit, called Caring & Helping Out Others (CHOO). Already, the Rotary Club of Portland has started a fund in Mr. Fair's name to support this endeavor.