Youth On Their Own Alumnus Shares How Local Nonprofit Helped Him on the Path to Success
Tucson, AZ – One day, Luis’s parents broke the news to him: “You can’t stay here anymore.” Poverty had plagued his family, and now Luis was completely on his own. He was shocked: as a high school student living in Mexico, how would he be able to stay in school and support himself? He ultimately made the decision to move to Tucson with $5 in his pocket and a bicycle carrying all of his belongings.
Fast forward to today, and you would never know that Luis Garcia Ramos was once one of 5,600+ homeless teens in Pima County struggling to survive. Today, Luis works as an EMT and is preparing to start medical school in June 2017 to become a Physician’s Assistant.
Looking back on his experience with YOTO, Luis is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support he received. “I was a YOTO student back in 2001, and the help was essential for me to be able to achieve my goals. The stipend, the Mini-Mall, and their personal support pretty much kept me alive during this journey. I have lovely memories of the people that offered their help unconditionally.”
Luis wants other homeless teens to know that perserverance is the key to their happiness and success. “When we wake up in the morning, it is our decision to have a good attitude, to be willing to work harder, to be humble in recognizing our weakness and imperfections, and to do our best to make a better version of ourselves,” Luis mused. “Never make a mistake to compare yourself to others, but instead compare to a previous version of yourself… and strive to make it better.”
When Luis isn’t working or studying, he is volunteering at the Youth On Their Own Resale Home Store (1642 N. Alvernon Way), working closely with YOTO interns and “giving back” to the next generation of students.
Kristyn Conner, YOTO Director of Development
In its 31st year of service, Youth On Their Own (YOTO)’s mission is focused: to support the high school graduation and continued success of homeless youth by providing financial assistance, basic human needs, and guidance. Since 1986, over 16,000 homeless students have been empowered to stay in school and pursue opportunities for self-sufficiency.