Reason to be proud…

Folks often ask me how we measure success for the children and youth we serve. Certainly we can point to any number of outcomes or achievements that demonstrate improvement whether it be in their emotional well-being, social skills or educational performance. But the true measure is ultimately expressed in the success of each and every individual we serve. The challenges that are addressed must never be underestimated and as a result their achievement is made only more remarkable.

Recently Thomas Lee, the director of Hillsides’ transitional housing and services, Youth Moving On, shared with all staff the remarkable story of one of our residents. What follows is Thomas’ presentation of Victor a young man who all of us are very proud.

Just over a year ago, Victor was an undocumented immigrant living at Optimist Homes, in need of housing and a path that wouldn’t jeopardize his probation and the attendant likelihood of deportation hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles.  He applied to Youth Moving On (YMO) for housing and services and was accepted because he only had six months more of probation which would then determine his ability to obtain residency.  All he had was a high school diploma and a fire in his eye that said: “All I want is a chance.”

Victor joined the YMO program and promptly began an internship at one of our best sites: A4 (a team sports and athletic apparel company).  While in the internship, he improved his English, business math, and job seeking skills.  He also enrolled full-time into Pasadena City College and started working toward his associate’s degree. 

Within six months, he gained his residency, helped co-found the Indigenous Peeple Clothing Company, and was hired and given full employment by A4. 

With all those accomplishments, Victor didn’t stand pat.  He travelled to Le Blanc, France with YMO’s internship abroad program, saved over $8000, and was honored by Optimist Homes, Michaela Pereira from KTLA Channel 5 Morning News, and given a commendation by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe. 

Through it all, Vic has remained humble and hungry for more.  He’s successfully completed his first year of college and is continually looking for more opportunities to make the most of his time at YMO. 

We measure success for Victor and all we serve when they can stand on their own, full of confidence and claim a hopeful future.

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