Growing up in San Jose wasn’t always easy for Billy. He was born into a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic dad from Guatemala who faced trouble with the law and a mom from Mexico trying to keep a job. His dad was deported in 2010 and the struggles for his family became real.
Billy attended high school but with the hardships of his family he became homeless and on the streets away from his mother and younger brother at the age of 18. With his mom facing her own shelter issues with no family support, Billy didn’t want to be an added burden so he didn’t share the struggles with his mom.
Homeless and on the streets with his friend Junior since 2013 -- wondering when the next meal would come, where they could rest their heads for the night, where they could shower and use the restroom -- they learned to hustle and survive on the street. They went through it together, back-to-back ensuring their safety for the night. Luckily, they found StandUp For Kids - Silicon Valley in 2014.
It’s been three years since becoming part of the StandUp For Kids family. At 23-years-old, struggling to keep a job, and keep the faith that things will work out, Billy knows he deserves more than the life that he has been given so far. He considers StandUp For Kids a home, a safe place with a "good vibe and energy," a place where he says we care.
He’s always one of the first people at our door, waiting for it to be opened so he can eat, take a shower and relax for a couple of hours. Billy has participated in our mentoring program for three years now. When asked if he has made any friends while coming to our outreach center, The Village, he said I (the author) was his friend. When trust isn’t an easy thing to earn, when trust has abandoned him, I was touched that he considered me a friend.
Billy doesn’t share with many people that he is homeless. He puts on a brave face, he protects other kids if anyone picks on them, and he says the hardest thing about being on the streets is losing someone to drugs. His mother struggles with the addiction of crystal meth, a drug he will not touch as he has seen firsthand the damage it can do to a family and one’s life.
StandUp For Kids has provided the support, the resources, and the courage for Billy keep up the fight and make a better life. Billy is in a housing program now. He hasn't given up on trying to keep a job. And he’s grateful that StandUp For Kids has never given up on him.
He said, “The Village was my stepping stone to a positive life. What will it be for you?”
If you know of a young person in need that could benefit from StandUp For Kids's services in 17 locations around the U.S., read on.