Transformation Stories

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

Life was pretty regular for me until I turned 12. In the sixth grade, I started realizing that my sexuality was something that made me different. My mother and aunt were very against me being a lesbian, so my way of dealing with these problems was to self-inflict pain. At age twelve I started cutting myself.

In eighth grade, I attempted suicide. I overdosed on Motrin. Of course I didn’t die. At age nineteen I decided to rebel. I was gang banging. I was completely untamable.

I had a very short criminal career because I was arrested fast. I went from never being in trouble to having 22 counts of robbery against me. My sentence ended up being five years with two strikes.

When I came home, I remembered hearing about Homeboy Industries. I started coming to classes. I attended Healing Circle, a class focused on transforming trauma instead of transmitting it.

Today, I look back and remember how it felt to walk through the doors at Homeboy. Homeboy is a place where it is ok to be myself —on parole, a tomboy, and scared. Homeboy Industries is a welcoming community.

I smile daily because I know Homeboy is truly a second chance organization founded with love. On my worst day there is not another place I would rather be than at Homeboy.


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