I started running away from home at 12 years old. My dad used to beat up my mom and as I got older, I found myself in similar situations. After leaving a violent relationship, I decided that this was the last time I would put myself in this situation. I took my boys to escape by living in our van. Shortly after I met Raul. He was great with my kids and invited us to move in his place. Over the next 7 years, we became a family. In July 2016, he died unexpectedly and the next week my aunt, that I call ‘mom’, passed away…and just like that my support system was gone. Raul worked, I didn’t work, so I didn’t have the money to stay in our own place and we moved back into our van.
Over the last 3 years my boys and I have struggled going from shelter to shelter leading nowhere and taking my boys from school to school. Being homeless is a sad situation. As a parent you feel like you’re failing. I feel sometimes parents make wrong choices but being homeless is not a choice for children. I had to find ways to give my kids a bath in the van. At one shelter, I was beaten badly in front of my boys. That’s when I started to be a voice for other homeless moms.
Maywood Mayor Eddie de la Riva and Sheriff Alex Villanueva heard my story and referred me to The Whole Child’s Safe Families Program. At first, I was scared and hesitant because of my past experiences. I even did a ‘drive by’ test and I could not believe it! The cottages looked so nice! It seemed too good to be true “somebody pinch me now”, but on September 3rd we moved into Safe Families.
My case manager, Christian Gale helped me with my resume, taught me how to do a budget and built me up when I was feeling down. The staff has been so supportive to me. Perla Bernal helped me do mock interviews to prepare to find a job. I now have a stable foundation through The Whole Child Safe Families. My children are so happy. They don’t have to worry about where to go after school or where they will sleep. My oldest, Bobby is a straight A student through it all! I am so proud of him for not giving up on me as a mom.
I tell my kids whatever life throws at you, look at what happens when you don’t give up.
I imagine us in a place we can call home. We might even put our names up on plaques to show it’s ours! I want to continue to be an advocate to help fight homelessness in Los Angeles County. I almost gave up and let myself fall into the cracks of life on the streets. I told myself this was going to be my last straw. My grandpa, a World War II veteran told me never give up, that’s why I came to The Whole Child Safe Families. I’m so happy I listened to my grandpa!
Thank you to The Whole Child for believing in me and encouraging me to not give up. Thanks for understanding that being homeless is really hard, it’s heartbreaking. Thank you to the City, to Supervisor Hilda Solis and LAHSA for resources, like The Whole Child, that truly make a difference for people who are homeless. There is so much care and love they put into these cottages. It’s hard to put in words how I feel about The Whole Child. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!