On April 13, 2016, the unthinkable happened. We lost one of our beloved youth, Rueben.
Rueben was everyone’s best friend. He made everyone feel welcome and never had a mean thing to say. He loved and was loved by all. He was always a peacekeeper and always saw the positive. He would make himself available to anyone who needed him and never judged someone because of the struggles they went through.
When he would come to YouthHope, he would greet everyone and hug all of the volunteers. He made sure to thank us for all of the help he received and would always end with “you rock”. He made any room light up with his personality and smile.
Rueben started coming to YouthHope in 2010. He came as a shy, timid boy who had a past that no one should have to endure. Over the years, we saw him grow and saw what future he had in store. A future of hope and success. He was determined to change his life around for the better. He worked so hard to leave his past.
Rueben had overcome so many obstacles in his life. He went from living on the streets to living in a house, he graduated high school, was going to Crafton, he started seeing a counselor, and working a part time job. He had such a bright future, but it was blurred by the darkness of his past.
He had been through so much and we are so saddened that his achievements and life were abruptly ended.
Rueben impacted all of our lives and we miss him dearly. Rest in Peace Rueben.
Dear Future Self- I Will Succeed
There comes a time in everyone’s life where you have to stop looking at your current situation and start to look at your future. Regardless of where you come from, you can dream big. That’s where I found myself when I was 17.
I grew up in a very poor home. My mom didn’t work and my dad could never keep a job long enough to provide for us. We lived in a very old house where things would always break, but we didn’t have the money to fix them.
Our water heater broke so we just always took cold showers. The door hinge broke so we never really were able to close the front door. These things were livable, but one day I came home from school and there was water pouring out of the front door. A pipe had broke and there was a foot of water around the whole house. I knew we wouldn’t be able to afford to replace everything in our house and I was devastated.
I wanted to help my parents so bad, but didn’t know how to. One of my friends at school told me about YouthHope and how they might be able to help me.
I went to YouthHope one day after school. Not only was I shocked at how nice everyone was to me, but I couldn’t believe that there was a meal that I could eat there, there were clothes that I could have, canned food that I could take with me, and Heidi was willing to help me with whatever I needed.
YouthHope helped me get a new bed and dressed and that was just the beginning of what YouthHope helped me with.
When I told Heidi about the struggles with my family, she immediately helped me. She had a volunteer help me write a resume, Judy took me to find a job, and within a week I was working at my new job.
I was so happy that I was able to help with the bills at the house. We were able to fix some of the damage at the house and save a little bit for future problems.
Now Youthhope is helping me get into college. I’m determined to have a better life. I’m determined to help my parents out.
I cant wait to start college and work towards my goal of becoming a nurse. I see my future and its looking bright.
Thank you YouthHope for always being supportive and always choosing to help me and see that I can be successful despite my current circumstances.
Can’t Stop Me
I have this recurring dream where I’m sitting in the back of a dark car with my sister. We are told to be quiet and act like we are sleeping. My parents aren’t with us and we are put into a dark house and left there for days. We are told that we can watch tv or sleep, but we better not open the curtains or go outside.
When I wake up from that dream, I know that its real. Its what got me in this position. Sneaking over the border so we can have a better life.
It didn’t start out as a better life. With an alcoholic, abusive mother and a father who worked all the time, I was left by myself a lot. Things got better after a few years, and my mom became a recovering alcoholic. We became legal and things started to look up.
I was in 6th grade when I met my friend Sarah. We became really close really fast. We ended up playing together all of the time and we opened up to each other about our struggles in the past. One day Sarah and I were walking home from school and she said “I’m gonna kill myself tonight”. I didn’t believe her because we were always joking around. I said “you better not” and that was the end of that conversation. I woke up the next morning with the news that Sarah did kill herself and I did nothing to stop it.
Its been 10 years since that’s happened and I still carry that guilt around. To cope with the grief and pain, I started doing cocaine. I didn’t do it because I was addicted, but it helped me forget about my guilt. I also started drinking and trying other drugs too.
I learned about YouthHope through people at my school. They helped me get into counseling. I loved my counselor and she really helped me heal from many of my past experiences.
It wasn’t until we had a death at YouthHope that I truly found healing. After one of my best friends committed suicide and I found myself completely broken I knew if I didn’t get the help right then, I would be the next victim to suicide.
I showed up at YouthHope and told Heidi that I needed help NOW. She stopped what she was doing and got me into a sober living that same day.
I now have been sober for a month. I attend weekly meetings and have accountability at my house. I still have a long journey ahead. I will always struggle with guild and coping mechanisms, but I wont let that hold me back. I will be successful and live a full life. Just try to stop me!
I Need Time
My mom abused me as a child. She was a terrible mom. CPS got involved early on and took me from her. I’m thankful they did that because I’m not sure if I would be alive right now if they left me there.
But after I was taken from my mom, I got moved around. Every foster home I went to, there were problems. I didn’t get along with my foster parents, or I didn’t get along with the other kids in the house. There was always a reason and I was always the one to have to leave.
In my last foster home, I really tried to behave. I knew where I would be headed if I didn’t stay there. The second week I was there, another kid that was living there started a fight with me. I didn’t know any better than to fight back. The next day, the social worker came for me.
From there, I moved to 3 different group home. Homes where 10-15 boys lived together and are expected to listen to rules and get along. Ya right.
The day I turned 18, I left. They wanted me out soon, but they couldn’t force a child out on the streets before they were 18. I was left with nothing. I made my way to Redlands and after a few months of sleeping in a park, I made some friends.
They took me to YouthHope because they knew that I could get some help. When I first arrived, I was very cautious of everyone there. I never had a constant, supportive person in my life so I didn’t trust anyone at YouthHope either.
Slowly, I started warming up. I would eat the meals that they provided, and I would get clothes. After a few months, I asked for help with my court date. I was shocked that YouthHope would do anything to help me.
They took me to my court appointment and gave me tips on how to make sure it went smoothly.
I now trust the staff and volunteers at YouthHope more than anyone else in my life. They are always a support, and they also give me the space I need.
I know I need to finish my GED and get a job, but I just need more time. Time to figure out what I want to do with life, time to think, time to find myself.
Thank you YouthHope for being a resource for me, but for also just loving me when no one else did.