Jovenes Blog

LGBTQ Pride - Luna's Story

My name is “Luna,” I’m 24 years old and I’ve already been through a lot and done a lot. Family rejection. Incarceration. Foster care. Escorting. The streets. Homelessness. I just learned I tested positive. Yet I am still proud.

I am the definition of Pride. It’s what gets me through life. My motivation, my rock, my soul. Without Pride, we have nothing to stand for, we give up, and we lose hope. Even though I am in the middle of many struggles, I won’t let go of my dedication to improving my life and feeling pride for who I am, even when others do not.

I came out when I was sixteen and life became a blur after that. I felt alone and pushed into the world by myself – there was no blueprint for me to follow. My journey has made me stronger and taught me how to survive and what it means to have faith.

Pride is being fully accepted for who I am. There have been people who have come into my life and saw how hopeful I was, but sought to take away the light in my eyes. I’ve been tempted to give up. When you are surrounded by darkness, what’s the point of moving forward? I’ve had many turning points, but when I found out I was positive, I rededicated myself to never allowing anybody to destroy my life again.

I have to let go of my past and start anew. I have to forgive my family. I have to forgive those who have harmed me. I have to forgive life and God for what I’ve been through. I have to forgive myself. And I am. But I have questions that are constantly running through my mind.

Will I ever be loved?

Will I have children?

Will I be accepted for who I am?

Without Pride, the answer would be no. But with the pride, love, and passion I have for myself, I know I can live the life I deserve.

Young people like me need to be surrounded by simple people who are kind hearted, open minded, confident, and full of life. I’m finding people like that now, and change is coming. I’m at Jovenes Inc’s shelter for young men in Boyle Heights, and I’m moving forward. I have a job and a plan. I can see a positive future, and I want to inspire other youth to have pride in who they are. My story is not finished, but I will continue to overcome.

- Luna, client of Jovenes Inc
Featured on The California Endowment's Building a State of Resilience Blog

Invisible to Invincible - Movie Review

As a 17 year old high school senior, it wouldn’t seem like homelessness is a topic that would grasp my attention, but after researching the topic and becoming involved with Jovenes Inc. my perspective has changed dramatically. In the film Invisible to Invincible: Personal Transformations you learn the real life struggles of young men who strive to be their best. The film was astonishing to me because I fear the idea of moving out and going off to college in a few months, therefore I cannot imagine the anxiety and fear these young men must have experienced. To be only 12 years old and running away is a sickening thought, especially because of the world these young men ran into. To think that a place they called their home was so wrecked that their only solution was to leave the little that they had and try to make it on their own is even more sickening. However, their ability to overcome these predicaments was unbelievable. Their challenges were far more severe than anything I’ve experienced and seeing their ability to overcome these issues makes you appreciate whatever it is that you have.

-Celeste Reyes, 17, Whittier High School Student;


As a result of [my] experience interning for Jovenes, Inc. in an attempt to inform parts of the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, I’ve learned a bit from the presentations conducted [to other youth about healthcare access]. At the culmination of it all, I’ve found that many of our/my peers were either largely nescient or misinformed of the enrollment processes and the mandates of the reform.

Some of the most common inquiries were:
Where can I enroll?
How long does the process take?
Does it cost?
When can I expect to receive a card/packet in the mail?
How soon can I use it?

Because of such questions, I’ve come to find that presentations like these are crucial for communities, much like those in which we presented; many of them were working class, documented or perhaps even undocumented immigrants, or even communities that would be perceived as “less opportunistic”. Providing informative, free-of-charge presentations really gives said communities/people the opportunity at a better life and better health, not only for themselves, but for their families as well.

I feel as though, because of the internship, I am more knowledgeable about insurance and health care/the reform; these subjects have always been a bit elusive for me and difficult to grasp. The routine of presenting the same information solidified a basic understanding of Obamacare and how insurance operates. I also realized the importance of having coverage on any level, as having health anomalies can be/are expensive. And through my own conviction, I’ve been able to comprehend the magnitude and necessity of having coverage



It is important for people, the community, and organizations to support Jovenes Inc. because Jovenes Inc. really has made a difference. Jovenes Inc. provides housing assistance to young homeless male youth along with resources for jobs and school. Just as it is important for the female youth to learn values, self-esteem, and goal setting; it is important for our male youth to learn the same values. It is important that these young men learn to be stable adults so they too can help raise a better future. Jovenes Inc. puts a lot of money into programs and community efforts, so any support given is utilized properly. Jovenes Inc. has a drop in center as well, which allows all of the homeless community resources like food, clothes, computer lab, job leads, and resources that they can use to find housing.

-Mercedes L.

You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through, but Jovenes is the organization that has been there during my challenges. Now, I’m the President of one of the larges adult school groups in LA, and I’m excited and proud about the things I am doing.

-Lorenzo T.

Living in Jovenes’ Progress Place Apartments means that I have the chance and time to grow up, take responsibility, and learn how to live on my own. It also means that I’ve achieved a lot in my life to go from homelessness to having my own place. I’ve worked hard to get here. I want to thank Jovenes and all the staff here for their support, guidance, and patience with me. I’m on the right track.