I grew up in Alhambra, City Terrace, & Boyle Heights. My mother was a single mom & she did her best for us. We found our guidance & comfort in the streets. At 12, I started slacking off. At 13, I started gang banging. At 18, I got shot in the chest. I was high when it happened & I got high right after. My girls picked me up & we were celebrating my life by getting high. I was careless & reckless. I was on a suicide mission without wanting to kill myself. I could have been killed by the drugs, by the cops, or just by the life I was living. I didn’t understand the purpose of life. I totally believed I didn’t deserve any better than what I was getting.
At 28, I picked up my first prison term & did 5 years. I spent over a year in the hole in isolation & I was able to forgive myself for all my bad choices. I decided that I deserved more in life. Upon my release, I went home to be a mom to my kids. They were 12 & 6 years old when I got out of prison and they had been with my mom while I was locked up. I had never even met my youngest until I got out. I tried everything I could to keep myself busy: I applied at McDonald’s & Taco Bell, but they wouldn’t hire me so I started volunteering at the Mission with the homeless. I tried to be positive, but it was really hard.
I had known Father Greg for a long time because he had buried a lot of my friends. I started at Homegirl Café on April 9, 2011 & I was so grateful that someone gave me a chance. I knew I was going to do the very best I could. It was never even about the check, it was about the chance. I had always been hard-working but I had been putting my energy into committing crimes. I called that work. I got promoted after 3 months of working in production, but I got overwhelmed & ended up relapsing. I almost lost everything & when Homegirl gave me the chance to go to rehab, I took it. I had never been given that chance before. Going to rehab was a blessing. Even going to prison was a blessing. I had never been able to sit down & think about what I deserve. Now I appreciate life. I am now training in the our mini-farm program where instead of taking life, I plant life. I used to hate the sun coming up; when you don’t appreciate life, you want to stay in the dark. Now I notice the small things. Even a bird singing...hey I appreciate that. I appreciate it when my kids call me and say, “Hey Mom I love you.” That feels pretty good. Thats all I need, really. Just to hear them say that.