“I didn’t realize how great AHO support was initially, because I wanted to figure it all out on my own. “
When I was first introduced to AHO and Zara about 2 years ago, she did everything she could to help me, including meeting me the same day I called for help. I needed a phone so she started by helping by paying to get me a phone, so I could stay in communication with her, job interviews and the others I needed to begin moving forward in my life. I didn’t realize how great AHO support was initially, because I wanted to figure it all out on my own. I wasn’t in the best place mentally or physically and at that time I had zero drive to take the steps I needed to move forward in my life. I bounced around couch surfing, not doing anything productive with my life. I took some time to live life on my own terms and re-evaluated what I really wanted to do with myself. It was then I realized that the best way to help myself was to actively follow through on the many resources and opportunities AHO provides youth like me, and begin helping others by joining the AHO Youth Team.
Once that was clear to me, I got in contact with Zara again, this time around I did what I could to put in the same effort that Zara and the rest of the AHO team put into me. And, only two months later, thanks to Zara once again, I’m doing things that I never thought I’d have the chance or confidence to do. One of which is speaking publicly, speaking on behalf of AHO was the first time in my entire life that I had spoken in front of people. I had the chance to speak to the Marin Harbor Rotary Club about what AHO was all about. Next I spoke at the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame as one of the first male speakers ever to be allowed to speak at that yearly event. AHO has helped me in many other ways too. I was connected to a trauma counselor for my panic attacks, dental for my wisdom teeth that were causing a lot of pain, employment to help me move forward on my life goals. All of this at no cost to me.
Next, I moved on to help plan, my first big event with the AHO youth team of youth like myself AHO has helped which choose to give back for the help AHO provides by initiating youth-led projects to help the community better understand issues homeless youth face. The event I helped to plan was called Building Bridges: Law Enforcement and Young Adults to begin to create a better understanding with youth and the police. That event, launched at Marin Oaks High School, was the first step towards raising awareness about the general fear that youth have with law enforcement. The event took 5 months to plan and even though I came in during the last five meetings before the first event, I still had a lot of help catching up. I could tell that everyone that helped plan this event genuinely wanted, not only be there, but do everything they could to help bring these long-standing tensions and “issues with police” brought to light.
I’ve come a long way since I first came to AHO, and even though initially I was too young to realize what a huge support AHO was for me, I’ve grown up a bit and learned to love the work AHO does for the community and the youth in it. I hope to continue this work for many years to come.