I missed school a lot from a young age. When I was in elementary school, I remember missing over a year of school because my family was dealing with a huge tragedy and homelessness. My mom raised me by herself and there was never a stable place for us. She tried her best to stay away from drugs and get whatever money she could so we could eat and have a place to stay whether it would be at her friends or a hotel. I remember us staying at her friend’s house sharing the couch for about a year, living in a cheap hotel and sometimes having to sleep in the car.
It seemed so normal to me that this was my life. At the same time, it was something I would never mention. None of my friends ever knew I was homeless because I was always too embarrassed to tell them. I just remember loving to be around them and having a very close relationship with their families since I felt like I was alone. When I got back to school I had to repeat a grade because I missed so much time. I went back and then luckily, after waiting for seven years, my mom and I got approved for housing.
As I grew up, I didn’t realize how the pain of my childhood affected me. I started comparing my situation to those around me. Though I was grateful I had a roof over my head and my mom was staying away from drugs, most of the people around my mom still struggled with addiction. It was hard to watch as I grew up. Most of the time I felt like I had to be strong for my mom.
My freshman year, I started drinking and loved it to escape from my situation. I would drink about five times a week and I would constantly ditch my classes. I started to party with older friends and experiment with different drugs. When I was 18 I met my boyfriend and, fortunately, he helped me turn my life around. I met him at a party during the summer and when we got together he started to go back to college.
It was inspiring to have someone teach me that there was more to life than partying. He was a mentor for me, from teaching me all the stuff I missed in high school to teach me how to drive. After being with him I took a test to get my high school diploma and enrolled in college; something I thought I would never do. If I had never met my boyfriend, I would probably still be partying in the streets.
Today, I am one semester away from getting my bachelor’s degree at Cal State Long Beach. After learning about StandUp For Kids and their mission, it felt like being a part of their organization was something that was meant to be. A mentor is something every kid and young adult needs, especially when they deal with homelessness. When you feel like you have no one to listen and or support you, the path you can go on alone can be tough. An organization like StandUp For Kids that helps mentor you in any way you need is amazing and can be extremely impactful in changing someone’s life.