Omar grew up surrounded by alcoholics, drug users, and gang activity… even getting involved with a local gang at a young age because he was tricked into feeling safe and secure. His parents didn’t care where he was or what he was doing, especially whether or not he went to school. Omar hated being made fun of by his classmates for not understanding the curriculum, so he stopped going to school altogether. Eventually, his neglectful parents kicked him out and he was completely on his own.

Omar was offered help by positive role models in his life – even his school guidance counselor – but he always refused the assistance because he didn’t want to burden others. Little by little, he started going to school again. He set small goals for himself: first, aiming to arrive at school on-time; then, doing his homework; and so on. His School Liaison encouraged him to join the Youth On Their Own program. After weeks of consideration, he finally decided to accept the offer.

Since joining YOTO, Omar’s motivation to stay in school has skyrocketed! According to him, “It’s not just the monthly financial support I get… it’s also my teacher and my School Liaison, who have been so patient and done so much to keep me motivated. They really care.”

Omar is currently a senior and working toward graduation in 2017. When he graduates, he would like to attend barber school so he can develop a long-term career for himself. He dreams of being a self-sufficient, contributing member of this community.