Transformation Stories

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”


Tweety Bird was my nickname from my Dad. He would enter the room and say, “I think I saw a Puddy Cat. I think I saw a Puddy Cat.” Everyone used to laugh except me. See, I was “Tweety Bird” because I had big’ ol ears.
Now that memory of my Dad calling me Tweety Bird, I long for that. I long to hear to his voice. He was killed when I was 8 years, gangs and drug dealing. Death from a drug deal gone bad. I looked up to my father as most sons do. But then he was shot and gone.


In Junior High, I started doing drugs and was initiated into a gang. I dropped out of school in the tenth grade. I wanted to be on the streets because it was an escape route. I did not want to be home. I never wanted to be home. There were times when we only had crackers, no food. I didn’t want to be hungry every day and worry about my next meal. I thought, “If I was hanging around my homies they’ll look out for me and have food.”
When I was released after six years of incarceration, I looked for a job for a year. I filled out so many applications. Then my brother’s friend told me about Homeboy. I came in to get my tattoos removed. Tattoos are a big barrier. I knew I didn’t want to do this anymore—I wanted to wash my hands of it.


I was finally hired at Homeboy. Wow. It’s family. Homeboy IS home. This is a place you can come, where people are HAPPY to be at work.


At Homeboy, a person gets the proper tools and can then apply those tools to the outside world. Like now, selling chips and salsa. I’m making deliveries, creating invoices, following up on payments, scheduling and overseeing a small team. This is what I do now. I actually know how to do all this stuff. I have confidence and I enjoy it. I just needed a place to find that confidence in myself. Now I have it and I know I can get it done.


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Jose Arellano - Lost and found

Gabriel Lopez - Two generations in gangs, two generations of change

Juan Marquez: Constructing Confidence

Dorene Macias: parenting and paying it forward

Evan Hess: Father’s Day, every day

Lami Glenn: “Their generosity is what drives me”

Amie Zuniga: How an Accidental Transformation Led to a Life of Purpose

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life

Jermaine Smith: “There’s nothing else like this”

Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

Rasheena Buchanan: “You can’t get this kind of love anywhere else”

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

Carlitos Asegura: Who are we? Homeboys! How long will we run? Forever!

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

James Horton: Compassion in Action

Will Lopez: “I’ve had my second chance here—and my third, and my fourth”

Valerie Copeland: “Homeboy is a place where it is ok to be myself”

Orsy Jerez: Finding an Open Door

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”

Brazil Jackson: “laugh a little harder, live a little longer”

Erika Vargas: The Small Word That Means Everything

Miguel Avila: “I Don’t Want to Let Myself Down”

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

Damond Johnson: “We Were at Homeboy for the Same Reason”

Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots