Christian and his young brothers were raised by their mother, who emigrated from El Salvador. Growing up with the financial stressors of a single-parent household, he spent much of his time in the streets and eventually landed in a juvenile detention facility.
"When I was sentenced to Camp David Gonzales, my judge told me: 'If you want to be successful, try to be at the library the whole time.' It was my first time at camp. I thought it was going to be a nightmare. When I got there, I was introduced to C/HOPE's program and met Fernando. I realized I have a lot of opportunities here. I can learn a lot."
Christian cites the C/HOPE counselors as being instrumental to his new outlook: "They started to give me hope. They made my time go faster."
"I started thinking about the opportunities I have. I realized that I have people supporting me now, so I could pretty much do anything I want. So, instead of doing bad things, I could do better for myself."
"I enrolled myself in school, graduated from high school, and then I started slipping again." As he struggled to move forward, Christian encountered barriers to progress such as the prohibitive expense of textbooks and bus passes. "I called Fernando, and he helped me." Fernando met with Christian, introduced him to C/HOPE Alumni Director Valentina. They assisted Christian with funds for textbooks and bus passes, and they met regularly to develop Christian's educational plan and develop next steps, as well as to discuss time and money management.
"I started thinking: ‘Why would I throw this away? I have a good thing with people helping me.’ They give me motivation. I think about what I'm doing, and it makes me want to study harder.”
Christian has maintained his full-time employment but is taking a break from school. Though he can be hard to reach in person now, Valentina continues to support and encourage Christian by reaching out to his mom and brother, asking about his progress and engaging them in supporting Christian as he balances work and parenting and moves toward his educational objective: to resume classes and complete his Associate of Arts degree.