Transformation Stories

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

My name is George Nunez. Two months ago, I attended my daughter Faith’s “Back to School Night” for middle school. I sat in the small desks and listened to the teachers talk about Faith’s classes. Just two months before that night I was in jail on my fifth conviction in ten years. Being at school with Faith was a miracle, something I never did when I was a kid.

I grew up in South Central LA. I was born into gang life. Both my parents lived the life. My entire family was involved in some way. As a child, I was surrounded by addiction to alcohol, drugs, and violence. The gang life structure was everything to me. It was all I knew. 

To have more freedom and get away from my alcoholic step-father, I ran away to my grandmother’s home when I was eleven. Her house was a gang, dope hang-out, and she was rarely home. Between eleven and thirteen, things moved very fast. In 1993, I was convicted for a crime with some other kids. I got sentenced into the California Youth Authority for “life”.

When I got out, I was a twenty-five year old man with a fourteen year old’s mentality. All I knew was gang life and jail. I went right back to what I knew, the life I understood. I did what they built me to do. Two months out, I met a girl and started using meth. For the next twelve years, I went in and out of prison, just like my father, who died in prison in 1998. Different crimes. Different terms. Prison was where I learned to use drugs. During this period, I had two kids, whose mom died in 2009. I loved my kids but didn't have the tools to raise them.

In 2008, I came to Homeboy Industries, but I wasn’t ready to break the cycle of addiction. It was just for a paycheck. So I would self sabotage. A voice in my head told me to stop, but I was too high. I didn’t have real recovery yet. I got busted and put in County Jail for sixteen months.

I hit bottom.

I was thirty-five years old. I was tired, but I was still alive.

I came back to Homeboy with determination. I didn’t know how to love myself, but I was shown love. I didn’t  know integrity, but they showed it to me. I didn’t know how to get out of the prison mentality I’d grown up with.

Homeboy pushes me, and they don’t give up. As a trainee, I am involved with as many classes as I can take. I see a therapist once a week as well. Not getting shot at used to be a good day. Today I might have a bad day, but, I stay in the moment and humble myself. Today I get to be the father I never had, and I do it with the love and support of the people at Homeboy.

I like my mornings much better now. I start the day waking up my wife and our daughter Faith. Today I am a father. I am responsible. I have broken the cycle of drug, alcohol, and gang addiction. I am in real recovery. And now I am surrounded by a therapeutic circle of people who are not going to co-sign my old behavior.

Thank you for your generous support of Homeboy Industries.  Your gifts continue to help Homeboy change the lives of thousands of men and women, like me, who walk through these doors.


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