Transformation Stories

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity


When Mariana first arrived at Homeboy Industries in 2008, she was already a survivor. She grew up surrounded by domestic violence, became a teen mother, and ended up in L.A. County's Eastlake Juvenile Hall. But over the course of two years at Homeboy, she worked her way up to head server at Homegirl Café.

Then her life spun out of control...she fell back into old ways...and she lost her job. She was kicked out of her mom's house and went to live with her son in a tiny rented room, where they had barely enough food to survive.

“My theory used to be: If my son’s with me, he’s fine,” she recalls. “But that's not true.”

In a moment of clarity, she realized that the life she had known since childhood was going to destroy her and her son. If she wanted to keep him and stay alive, she had to break the cycle.

This is the hard truth of transformation: It rarely happens quickly, or on the first try. Given the magnitude of what people like Mariana have been through, it takes monumental determination--and a therapeutic community of loving peers and mentors--to discover and sustain a completely new way of operating in the world.

Mariana returned to Homeboy in 2010. She started over: washing dishes, taking classes, and prioritizing her recovery.

“Homeboy is acceptance no matter what, if you want it, ” she says.

Today, she works at Homegirl Cafe as the sous-chef and supervises all kitchen operations, including food ordering and distribution to the café's related businesses at City Hall, LAX, Bon Appetit, Culver Studios, and Homegirl Catering. She arrives to work at 2 am and sometimes doesn't get home until 5 pm.

“I have a different mentality.” As she slides out of her booth at the café and heads back to work, she adds, “I want my son to be the first in our family to go to college.”

Your charitable contribution makes it possible for Homeboy Industries to provide free services to men and women like Mariana who walk through our doors for help every year.  Thank you for your generous support.


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