When Brandon was just 15 years old, he was kicked out of his home by his alcoholic father who didn’t want to ‘parent’ anymore. He spent some time living on the streets but quickly realized that finishing high school was the only pathway out of poverty. It was through his involvement with Sin Puertas, a local behavioral health clinic, that he discovered the YOTO program. After 2 years of living on the streets and occasionally couch-hopping, he re-enrolled in high school as a sophomore and was back on track to graduate. Brandon began to receive YOTO services, often taking advantage of the Mini-Mall for food, hygiene items, and other supplies that he couldn’t afford on his own. He was also selected to be part of the first cohort for YOTO’s grant-funded JAG (Jobs for Arizona’s Graduates) Program, designed to help young adults overcome challenges, graduate, and successfully transition into further work and education.

Since then, he has been elected by his peers as the President of the JAG Career Association for 2016-2017 and is excited to continue this personal growth journey alongside his peers. After Brandon graduates from high school in 2017, he plans to get a job and enroll in classes at Pima Community College to study Anthropology, focusing on Linguistics and minoring in Religion. His ultimate goal in life is to achieve financial security.

In Brandon’s own words, “To all of the donors who make the YOTO program possible, know that your assistance today is creating a better future for youth tomorrow. YOTO has given me the resources to function and start down my path to a successful career. To the other youth who may also be experiencing homelessness, know that reaching out for help is not something you should be ashamed of because looking back, you’ll realize that it was this type of help that got you to where you are today.”