Transformation Stories

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

“Life shows up,” says Connie Cordero. What she means is: You might think you have it all figured out, only to have the wind knocked out of you again. She had been working at Homeboy Industries—taking good care of herself and her seven children, determined to build a future after four years in prison—when her brother was murdered.

“It would have been so easy for me to throw everything away then. I wondered what was the point of me doing well if these things could still happen to me,” she says. “I had all this hurt and anger, but I had to let people support me. I held onto everything I learned at Homeboy—kinship, hope, faith. That’s what got me through.”

Today Connie works as a Navigator, helping newer trainees discover their own ways of coping with trauma and moving forward. She recalls a difficult conversation in which she told a trainee she needed to seek treatment for substance abuse.

“Because I’ve been there, I could tell her truthfully that it was going to work for her. I see her today [healthy and sober], and I think, ‘I helped make that connection.’ That’s my success story right there.”

Connie’s face also lights up when she talks about her children. The oldest two are in college, and the younger ones are thriving. But she’s quick to question the “I changed for my children” narrative that many parents recite.

“You should also do it for yourself because you deserve it,” she says. “Why am I doing this? I’m doing this because this is who I am.”


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