“I was lost in life and kept looking for help in all the wrong places.” 

Youth Story - Julian
AHO has also helped me with leadership opportunities, self-confidence, emotional support, and the vision to begin seeing myself in a positive light.

My name is Morgan. I am 25 and I’m writing to share how Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity helped me when I was struggling with homelessness, abuse and addiction, and needed it the most.

Growing up my life was unstable but as I got older my life started spinning more and more out of control. I struggled with mental illness, abusive relationships, and drug addiction for years which led me to losing everything and sleeping in a tent, or on the sidewalk. I was lost in life and kept looking for help in all the wrong places until I was introduced to Zara, the founder and executive director of Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity (AHO) nonprofit organization. Zara has been a constant support for the past 4 years helping me not only get back on my feet but become stronger, and more confident woman than I was before.

In my family I was never able to count on anyone, so having trust in others has not been an easy thing for me. However, since I’ve been with AHO, I’ve been shown, time and time again, that I could count on them to be there for me in court and in life. I feel lucky that with AHO, I know they will always have my back, and be a constant in my life.

What specific resources did AHO give me that no other nonprofit could? AHO helped with getting an ID, dental, vision, cellphones, and more, but for me what made AHO so special was the support, faith and belief that Zara gave me, and the youth of AHO. What makes it special is you are welcomed with open arms no matter what has happened in your life, and you are never judged for your past mistakes.

From the beginning, AHO has supported my goals and Zara has been my role model showing me through her hard work and dedication that anything is possible if you put your heart in it and work hard for what you want. While I was homeless I wasn’t able to take care of any of my medical needs. I couldn’t afford a dentist or an eye exam and glasses.  Both of which I needed desperately, which AHO provided.

AHO has also helped me with leadership opportunities, self-confidence, emotional support, and the vision to begin seeing myself in a positive light. What makes AHO special to me is they stood by me every step of the way. Whenever I faced a new challenge in life they supported me and helped me learn the tools to not only handle it, but to move through it, to succeed and grow. 

Another important difference with AHO, they are not about giving you a handout, or seeing you as victim.  AHO sees all youth who need help as a whole person with valuable talents and gifts to share with the world. AHO gives you a hand up, and stays by your side, as you take the steps to a better life and future beyond homelessness and the trauma of abuse and addiction.

AHO has continued to be a constant in my life with opportunities to be a part of, participate in, and have a voice in, the planning and decisions of their Council of Investors and Youth Leadership Team meetings. They gave me an opportunity to be a part of my community in a positive way by being a team leader for the youth-led Building Bridges project. The purpose of the project was to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the youth in the community. We went into local schools and got the privilege of having a group of students and a police officer sit down in groups. As one of the trained team leaders for the project, we provided the setting for youth and law enforcement to meet on equal ground and learn about each other’s experiences and points of view. This process helped both youth and law enforcement move beyond the tension and misunderstandings to seeing each other as human beings.

My goal for the near future is to get a job at the Marin Humane Society and to volunteer in any way I can to give back to AHO which has helped me move beyond homelessness to a life of hope, purpose and meaning. Giving back is something that I am passionate about. I want to gain all the knowledge and experience I can because my ultimate goal is to start my own nonprofit to help sexual abuse survivors work through trauma and start healing with the help of emotional support dogs and therapy.