“She understands that we didn’t ask for the circumstances we are in.”
“Death might scare some, but not me. I was raised in a community where gunshots rang like a school bell, the police siren sounded like an alarm clock, and there were more baby showers than graduations.”
My mom paced back and forth in the hospital parking lot, high off of crack cocaine, contemplating if she should walk into Marin General and give birth to me. She was fearful of what the doctor would say or do, being that I would be her second child born on drugs. She didn’t even know that she had conceived me until the 7th month, and never received any prenatal care. After wrestling in her mind and having enough of the painful contractions she walked into the hospital and stated that her baby was coming. Nurses could see in her face what her current condition was and knew that it wasn’t going to end well.
It took no longer than 15 minutes for me to be born because I was a premature baby and only weighed 5lbs 2oz. I was born with high levels of crack cocaine in my system and had gotten pneumonia. Doctors said I would have learning disabilities, weight issues and wouldn’t be able to operate “normally”. I was immediately taken away from my mother and was given the proper care I needed by the doctors. You ask where my dad was? He was in Solano State Prison looking at doing 100+ years. I had no kin that was willing to look out for me at the time, so I became a part of the State of California’s family.
Later on, 1 year later, two wonderful people adopted me who immediately gave me love and care. They jumped over ropes and climbed over mountains to prove to the State that they could care for me! At the time they both had jobs, and life was good. Years passed and my mom lost her small business and my dad was called by God to be a Pastor. Praying on this decision, my dad decided to quit his job and dedicate himself full-time to the Ministry. He understood that being a Pastor has no stable income, and was confused about how he would provide for his family, but he trusted God! He knew his blessings would come when he did what God called him to do, which was to preach and teach the good news.
At the age of 12, I saw how much my dad had to struggle to provide for us over the years. When I was 18, he couldn’t do it anymore here in Marin. The little money the county or state provided wasn’t much help at all, so my parents left Marin, and I stayed behind. Since then things have been rough. Having no stable housing, not knowing when or where my next meal would come from and my new friends trying to force me to sell myself to make money. People I trusted took advantage of me, and forced me to loose trust. Today, all my old friends that I grew up with are either dead from being shot, or have moved away. Death might scare some, but not me. I was raised in a community where gunshots rang like a school bell, the police siren sounded like an alarm clock, and there were more baby showers than graduations.
I am now 21 and not much has changed for me, besides having a job to escape the realities of the life I have outside. I fell so unheard, forgotten, unloved, little and unimportant. When I work I feel in charge and powerful, but only for the 5 to 8 hours a day I’m working. My job understands my situation and allows me to hang around the property to get rest and clean myself up, but not all the time, because it’s still a business.
I was introduced to AHO and Zara Nov 2015 after reaching out to my social worker, not knowing if I was to old (21) to still be getting help. I am really excited to have been given information about AHO and the comprehensive help they provide. I feel like Zara is going to be a great life-long friend, support system and is a great contribution to the youth who have been in similar or worst situations that I’ve been in. When we met for the first time, I really appreciated how Zara didn’t greet me with a standard handshake and hello, but she gave me a HUG, and it was a real genuine hug. I admire how she even had the drive and inspiration to start AHO to help young people like little old me, and give us a fighting chance at life. She understands that we didn’t ask for the circumstances we are in.
I love Zara’s passion and drive to see youth succeed in whatever positive thing that we want to do. She does not see us as drug addicts, thieves, or waste of time just because we are struggling. Her spirit is so sweet and genuine I JUST LOVE IT. I am excited about everything she is helping me with to find stable housing, counseling, Cal Fresh, and opportunities to be a spokesperson for AHO to educate the community about youth homelessness. Unlike the State of California, that has forgotten us after a certain age, Zara is remembering us! I am lucky to have found AHO and Zara. [Return to Youth Stories]