Transformation Stories

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Gordy vibrates with energy. He speaks with intensity and conviction, and has a razor sharp memory. And at the age of 25, he has already had a lifetime of experiences.

Gordy grew up in Duarte with a large extended family. His grandmother had 17 children and he describes them as close, although his father is a lifer he only met once. All the men in the family were gang members, so his “brainwashing”, as he refers to it, started early. He assumed being in a gang was what he was meant to do.

He was very close to his grandmother, so when he turned eight and she passed away, it had a huge impact on him. He started hanging out with his cousins who beat him up “to make him tough”. At school he was quiet, but he’d explode with rage when he got picked on. He was expelled for trying to stab another boy on the bus.
He tried to join a gang at 12, but was told to wait until he was 13. He started dealing and using drugs, and ran away from home at 13 to live in a dope house where he snorted meth for the first time and got hooked. His life consisted only of gangs and drugs, of using and selling. He was locked up for various violent offenses from age 13 – 18, with only a year and a half total spent back out on the street. He had earned a reputation of being “hard”, and wanted to be the best at getting away from the cops. It was all a game to him.

Still, Gordy was captivated by Father G the first time he heard him at Mass when he was young and incarcerated. G didn’t talk like any of the other priests. He always spent time with him after Mass and encouraged him to come to Homeboy.

Gordy turned 18 in camp, and when he got out he went to Homeboy. He entered juvenile rehab in Long Beach and started to live differently and meet different kinds of people. But he didn’t feel deserving of it yet and found himself bored by the slower lifestyle. The thrill of the streets was still a draw for him. He thought he could stay away, but he wasn’t ready yet. He missed the drugs and the partying. He was soon arrested again and ended up doing two years in County Jail, which he found to be an unbearably violent, racially divisive place.

After his time at County and his time in prison, he was ready to come back to Homeboy and put his heart and soul into changing his life.

And Homeboy is now at the center of his life. He shows up at 6:45 a.m. and stays until 3:30. He works closely with his case manager, and feels that he gets so much from the anger management classes, from the council circle, and (maybe most importantly) from the fatherhood classes, as he will become a father in June. He and his fiancée have their own apartment with room for the baby.

He proudly spoke at the Lo Maximo awards dinner in May, looking confident and handsome in a suit and tie. He talked about how his old life is behind him, as he steps into the promise of the bright future he is working so hard to achieve.


Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots

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

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

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

Erika Vargas: The Small Word That Means Everything

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

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”

Orsy Jerez: Finding an Open Door

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

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

James Horton: Compassion in Action

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

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

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

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

Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

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

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity

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

Lami Glenn: “Their generosity is what drives me”

Evan Hess: Father’s Day, every day

Dorene Macias: parenting and paying it forward

Juan Marquez: Constructing Confidence

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

Jose Arellano - Lost and found