“I’m slowly striving for success with AHO as my foundation.”

I have a plan to turn every negative obstacle in my life into positive stepping stones. With the help of AHO, and my personal commitment to myself and my future, I know that I can achieve all my goals.

Growing up, I never really had a relationship with my biological father. He was abusive towards my mother and lives in Louisiana. We do not have any contact with each other. I have an older sister, who struggled with alcohol addiction. She is now in sober living and doing well. Seeing my sister turn her life around has inspired me that I can do it too. We have a very strong bond and relationship. As for my mother, we barely talk. She isn’t able to accept responsibility for all I’ve gone through growing up because of my family situation. I’ve tried multiple times to reach out to her to get our past resolved, but to no avail. My goal is to heal this relationship if I can, once my life is more settled.

I am 21 years old, and a victim of domestic violence. My ex-boyfriend was very physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive. I had been dealing with his abuse for many years. I stayed with him because I felt, that if I left him, I would not be able to survive. He broke me down and made me feel like I would be absolutely nothing without him. He used my weaknesses, of not having a family or any support, to his advantage.

In 2017, on November 2nd, I built up enough courage to finally leave my abusive boyfriend. I called the Center for Domestic Peace hot line and moved into their shelter where they only let you stay for one month. It was there I was told about AHO and to get in contact with Zara for support once I left the shelter. I texted Zara and gave her a brief description of what I was going through. She responded right away, and made plans to meet me at College of Marin the next day. When we met, I felt comfortable and safe with her to share more about my current situation and what I needed help with. I desperately needed a winter coat. It was winter, and I was freezing. The very next day, Zara got me an appointment at Bloom for the coat I needed. After meeting with Zara, the second time, I knew that I could trust her because she always followed through on what I asked for. Her actions showed me she would sincerely help me.

Since then, Zara has helped me in so many ways. She connected me with another youth Juliana, with a similar story, who is now a peer mentor to me. AHO helped me get my car fixed at Toscalito Tire which cost over $600. AHO has helped me in ways I couldn’t have gotten help with anywhere else. AHO has made it possible for me to get into stable housing and to attend culinary school. I was given the opportunity to participate in the AHO Council of Investors meeting with some other youth, where I was able to share my story and have my voice heard.

In early January, I was one of three AHO youth that was invited to attend the 2018 Heart of Marin Award’s luncheon. AHO was nominated in the category of Innovation by the President of College of Marin. It was very special to be there and have the opportunity to meet some other youth and AHO supporters. Another gift of AHO was a recent Healing Circle for AHO. Although I had never done a healing circle before, I went with an open mind and no expectations. I left the experience filled with bliss and pure relaxation. The circle gave me peace of mind that I haven’t had in a very long time. I felt like I was literally floating on clouds. I am very grateful I was able to be a part of something so amazing! AHO has also connected me to a trauma therapist who has helped so many youth like me. When I am more stabilized and ready to deal with my mother issues, I will call her.

AHO has given me the hope and faith that I will end my homelessness and get my life back on track. The AHO organization is very unique because they actually help! They are very dedicated to helping youth and really follow through with everything they say they are going to do for you.

My future plans are to get my own apartment, continue to work and graduate from culinary school. I love to cook! I am seriously looking forward to making a career out of my passion. I also have future plans of making a better relationship with my mother. I have a plan to turn every negative obstacle in my life into positive stepping stones. With the help of AHO, and my personal commitment to myself and my future, I know that I can achieve all my goals. By taking life one day at a time, I’m slowly striving for success with AHO as my foundation. My life is changing for the better one step at a time since I found AHO!

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