Thursday, June 21, 2012

homegirl story: sarah

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.