Erica Cardenas

Painter with heart

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Robert Guzman: “I came from a lifestyle that was filled with crime. (Preaching) is my way of giving back.” Photo: Dan Coogan

When Robert Guzman makes his regular trips to Tent City to share the message of God’s word with inmates, the reformed 40-year-old must say his own prayer of thanks that he lives on this side of the fence.

Many of the men to whom he witnesses likely have a track record similar to that of Guzman, whose youth and young adulthood spent in San Diego included stints in juvenile detention, engaging in gang activity and witnessing the murder of a friend. He also survived getting stabbed – twice.

This pattern eventually served as a clear confirmation that it was time for a change, and Guzman made his way back to Phoenix, his birthplace, in 1993.

“Even after I moved back to Arizona, I still kept getting into trouble,” says Guzman. “This is what led me to the Lord…when I felt Him call me, I went to His house and have never been the same since.”

When not at doing his day job as a field superintendent with Apex National Decorators, Guzman, along with three other men from MorningStar Apostolic Church in Gilbert,  journeys into Tent City and other local jails to spread the gospel.

And though Guzman’s journey has been filled with challenges and victories, his unwavering faith keeps him unbreakable and solid as oak.

With seven years at Apex, Guzman knows everything there is to know about paint, what it takes to be the best in the business and how to be a team leader.

As a field superintendent, Guzman sets the pace in leading and overseeing many skilled laborers. He started in the field as a drywall and paint laborer.

“Since his promotion to field superintendent two years ago, Robert has developed into a great leader,” says Marianne Cox, Vice President of Operations for Apex. “He’s always been a talented painter but there was so much more inside. He brought organization and support to his crew, which grew from five to 30 painters today.”

His personal experience with street life as an at-risk youth, however, gives Guzman the tools necessary to communicate on a personal level with lawbreakers behind bars.

“I came from a lifestyle that was filled with crime. I know what it feels like,” says Guzman. “This is my way of giving back…God has put it into my heart to preach in this way.”

At the end of the day, Guzman is content with his life and enjoys spending time with his wife Sylvia and their 11-year-old son, Robert Jr.

Guzman feels very confident in the opportunity he’s been given to work in Tent City, and gives tribute to his pastor of 12 years, Daniel Lizarraga

He says it was Lizarraga who encouraged and allowed him to take his work into the jails.

“I’ve had several conversations with Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) and told him we need a revival in the jail system…the inmates in Tent City stay for months, not years,” he says. “I enjoy this because the preaching is fresh, so inmates can take it with them to the streets.”

When Guzman shares his personal goals, the sky’s the limit as he sees his dreams become – one day – reality.

“I would like to see inmates serving God and for them to be a testimony of what the gospel can do for others,” he says.

The rewarding feeling Guzman receives from witnessing to those often dismissed by society has inspired him to take his message across national borders. He talks about one day traveling to Africa, India and other corners of the world that need the spiritual message of life and salvation.

Through his work at APEX and his work spreading the word about a salvation available to even those who are shackled, Guzman hopes to leave a lasting impact on others. His inspirational message remains constant.

“Bottom line is that you will need God at some point in your life,” he says.

“I could not have done this without Him.”

Field Superintendent (Painting)

Among skills and qualifications needed for this position:

• Serves as apprentice painter for two to five years; once this experience is acquired, considered a painter “journeyman”

• Next comes the promotion to a Foreman, where individual is responsible for profitability of projects/personnel

• Critical skills include: problem solving, time management and effectively working and interacting with the public; has attention to detail, is a self starter.

• Pay: hourly rate for painters is $10 to $12 for apprentices; $13 to $20 for a journeyman. Superintendents can earn an hourly rate of $25-plus.

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