By age 14, Gabriel has lost both parents to drug overdoses, leaving him and his 10-year-old sister alone. The Department of Child Safety placed them in a loving and kind foster family. Gabriel and his sister were so afraid that they would be moved to another place or someday split up.
Gabriel started to suffer from depression and panic attacks. His school counselor encouraged him to apply to Youth On Their Own. “This was the turning point for me,” says Gabriel. “I knew that I had to help myself, if other people who I didn’t even know were helping me. I turned my grades around to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. The YOTO Career Development Department helped me find and apply for scholarships.”
Gabriel earned a two-year scholarship to Pima Community College with a goal to study airplane mechanics. He worked very hard on his studies and this program. “At times, I felt like I needed to give up,” he said. “I worked at a restaurants cleaning tables and would ride my bike to the bus stop – pedal fast from the bus to campus. It seemed like that is all I did for two solid years. But I did it, never missed a class, and graduated… and I have been able to take care of myself and my sister. I work for an airplane repair company and I love my job. Thanks, YOTO!”