Stories & Statistics

Update from Jovenes

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Roads We Walk

Caminemos Juntos - Let's Walk Together! from Morgan Marzec on Vimeo.
'The Road I Walk' is a song created through a collaborative storytelling project with Jovenes Inc. and students from Art Center College of Design's Media Design Practices program. The song was co-written by three young men from Jovenes: Kevin, Marlon, and Lorenzo. In response to misconceptions about homelessness, each writer wrote a verse about their life, struggles, goals, or perspective.

For more information: Caminemos Juntos

Rudy's Story

My name is Rudy, I am 22 years old, and this is just a portion of my story. I was born in Covina, CA and am the second oldest out of nine kids. I spent the first 12 years of my life living with my mom, and the next seven years in foster care after my home situation became unstable. My siblings and I were left alone and had to fend for ourselves, and my family was split up because my mom wasn’t able to take care of us. We had to do things like ask for money or ask strangers at the grocery store if they needed help with there groceries for a little bit of cash, and everyday was a struggle.

The “system” labeled my home environment as one that was “neglectful and full of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse,” but it just seemed normal to me. When we were taken into foster care, all of us were split apart. In those seven years, I lived in two different foster homes and a childcare facility that seemed more like a jail than a place where we could grow up. When I was 15, a car hit me on my way back from the library. I was lucky to be alive, and suffered major injuries which I’m still dealing with, but won a lawsuit. My “small fortune” got me into more trouble and I made some decisions that, looking back, made me feel regret and shame, but they also made me who I am today. When I was 19, my case was closed for the reason that I was of age of emancipation. The next step in my life was a transitional Living Program, but my social worker couldn’t find me a Transitional Program so she dropped me off at the front step of Jovenes, Inc.

Jump ahead three years. Now I’m living on my own and working at Jovenes as a program assistant. When I first got to Jovenes, I barely had anything- no GED, no drivers license, no job, no plans: just a plastic bag filled with my clothes and some personal papers. I enrolled in adult-school as soon as I got to Jovenes so I could get my GED, but I was still dealing with a lot of emotional stress that made the process of doing well in school very difficult. However, I graduated 8 months later. Then I got my drivers license. Then I enrolled in college to get a certification in Business Operations, where I learned how to do much of the work that is necessary for an office to work efficiently. Then I started looking for a job where I could apply all I learned, but saw that no employers were willing to hire me. For the reason that I didn’t have a lot of job skills and a lot of experience I was looking for a chance, but there weren’t that many people who were willing to help. Opportunity knocked when a position opened at Jovenes, but I had to move out of the program if I wanted to work there. With the money I had in savings, I was able to put down a deposit on my own place. As soon as I moved in, I started working at Jovenes, finally able to put what I’ve learned into use.

It felt nice to go from being a resident to an employee at Jovenes, and have a better understanding of the things I went through and see similarities in the guys who are now in the same position that I was in. I sometimes get frustrated when I see some of our residents let opportunities pass them by. I know that each of us has a lot of potential, but we oftentimes hold ourselves back. What I’ve learned is that all of us have opportunities to do things for ourselves, but we have to find that drive to accomplish it, and move past our fears. I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me, but I do believe that if I keep moving forward, I’ll be able to keep accomplishing things that I can be proud of. My life has been interesting, and now I’m in a position to help others and help myself.


David's Story

Homeless since age 12, David is an example of the personal transformations happening at Jovenes. Here, David describes how he found Jovenes and the long term impact of this opportunity on his life. Donate now to support transformations like David's.


Testimony from Youth:

I have been through all three of Jovenes’ initial programs:  The Emergency Shelter, the Transitional Housing, and their first Permanent Housing project.  Everyone working and volunteering at Jovenes were always more than helpful.  They always had a smile on their face and were willing to supply me with any and all resources at hand.  They would often go above and beyond general expectations.  Staff would provide clothes or a clothing voucher for job interview attire if needed.  The main building/Drop-In center has a computer lab mainly to assist with online job applications, resume building, and constructing cover letters.  Meetings were held to teach interview manners and go through practice interviews.

I was referred to Jovenes Inc. from the previous shelter I was at and was homeless just before that.  I started at the Emergency Shelter across the street from their main office.  I was living here when I had obtained my first full time job and was unemployed prior to this.  With the help of the staff in the Drop-In Center, I fixed up my resume and cover letter.  I had only been to one other shelter, so it was slightly overwhelming.  Though, I was gracious for the opportunity, the roof over my head, and the food supplied.  Lunches were provided to those who wanted one upon leaving in the morning after breakfast.  With the help of the staff, I was able to start saving for a deposit for an apartment to maintain permanent housing.  I worked very hard to save as much money as possible. 

From there, I moved to the Transitional Housing upstairs from the main office after a short time.  Here, I was able to work on my cooking skills and learn how to properly budget.  I was able to continue my savings with Jovenes.  I learned how to shop at a supermarket, keeping all the main food groups in mind. 

I then moved into Progress Place, Jovenes’ first permanent housing development.  It was great to have a place to call my own.  Where I could feel safe, and off of the streets.  My roommate and I shared our 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment with a living room and kitchen.  Here, I was able to use and further develop the skills I had learned through Jovenes and through life’s lessons.  I have since moved on but still keep in contact with staff and continue to receive helpful and motivational emails.

Going through my own transition in and out of Jovenes Inc. has taught me plenty.  Among others, some of the things I have learned along the way would include dedication, motivation, trust, and self-discipline.  I thank them for all they have done for me, my peers, and the future generations to come through this great program.  I truly believe each and every employee and volunteer at Jovenes Inc. wants to see all of us succeed.  Given that people will only get out of the program as much as they put into it, Jovenes Inc. was an essential ingredient to my recipe for success.  Nothing changes, if nothing changes.