Transformation Stories

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

Brazil came to Homeboy Industries in October 2011 looking for help. Being involved with gangs, drugs, and violence led her to the streets and three trips to jail. Today, she works in Homegirl Café, greeting every patron with her big smile and warm personality.

Growing up in Pasadena, Brazil was the third of six children in a single parent home. Her mother worked hard to support them but experiencing hardships as a child and living in a home with an absent father grew difficult for Brazil. Her father was the first man to break her heart and make her rebel. He was her first love and because he was absent, she acted out. As she grew older, Brazil became more rebellious, which eventually led her to the gangs in her neighborhood.

After being incarcerated for the third time, Brazil wanted to change. She walked through Homeboy’s doors last year optimistic about the potential for what this community could offer her. Through resources like therapy and classes that provide tools to build healthy relationships, Brazil is moving forward. Starting off as a dishwasher in the Café, the Homeboy community has inspired her to do better, remain positive, and spread the spirit of this organization to all who walk through the doors.

Brazil wants a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work so she can work with kids, “to catch them before they fall.” Brazil continues to grow and this month she will start an internship at Project 180. Often, she gets to share her warm words of wisdom and encouragement at our morning meetings: “Smile a little brighter, laugh a little harder, live a little longer.”


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