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Rachel - Southern California

Author: BHGH Web Admin/Monday, February 17, 2014/Categories: National Success Stories

Rachel - Southern California

Rachel’s family, recent immigrants from the Philippines, struggled with adjusting to life in a new land. The experience took its toll on their family’s dynamic. Rachel recounts her story—and Boys Hope Girls Hope’s role in it—below.

“Five years ago, I was thirteen years old, and my life was in complete chaos. When I was little, my mom and I moved around all the time. Sometimes we were homeless and lived on the streets. Every year, I was in a different school. My grades were horrific.

“We had just moved to Orange County when our relationship hit the bottom. We were completely alienated from each other, and Mom wanted to send me to school in the Philippines, where she’s from. I was terrified of being so far away from everything that was familiar to me. But fortunately, a counselor at my middle school told us that sending me to the Philippines wasn’t the answer, but it would be better if I wasn’t living at home. She suggested Boys Hope Girls Hope.

“Since then, my life has changed completely. It was tough adjusting to my new environment and to the structure that I now had for the first time in my life. I was late for everything. I couldn’t even remember to make my bed in the mornings. Suddenly I had to deal with discipline. But the other girls in the house helped me through those first rough months. They welcomed me into the home and became my support group. They still are today. They’re like sisters to me.

“As time went on, I found myself transformed. I got organized, managed my time better, became more responsible, and improved my study skills. My grades got better. I began to thrive on the hard work. And I began to love the program I’d struggled against.

“Boys Hope Girls Hope changed my life. At last, I have the stability I need to focus on my studies. My grades have gone from a 1.6 to a 3.5. I wasn’t transferring to a new school every year—Rosary High School is the first school I’ve ever attended for more than a year. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of dancing—this year, I’m actually taking ballet and hip-hop classes at The Anaheim Ballet. I’m involved in campus ministry at Rosary. And I can’t believe that I will actually be going to college! I was just accepted to

DePaul University! And I know one thing for sure: I owe it all to BHGH!

“How blessed was I when I was accepted. Boys Hope Girls Hope has opened so many doors for me, providing me the opportunity to be whatever I would like to be. I am so grateful to have their support and a great education. For the first time in my life, I know I’m on the right path.”


 

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A Note from Erika Madrigal Martinez, 2002 Girls Hope graduate

 
As a freshman in high school, I did not understand the impact that Girls Hope (GH) was going to have in my life.  Looking back at the past ten years, I can honestly say that my enriching experience at GH propelled me to become the strong, confident, and independent woman that I am today.  Most importantly, GH allowed me to build relationships with people that, to this day, have been there to encourage, support, and guide me throughout all of my endeavors.  In other words, GH not only provided me with the tools to succeed as an individual, but it also gave me the opportunity to gain a second family.    
I first learned about GH through the secretary at my church who was also a good friend of the family.  She recommended that I apply to the program because she was aware of my parents’ desire to provide me with the best education despite the economic challenges that they faced.  As soon as my parents became aware of what GH provided, they knew that it was the life-changing opportunity they had been praying for.  I, on the other hand, was originally hesitant to leave home, but as soon as GH opened their doors to me, my apprehension disappeared, and success became my new reality.   
During my time at GH, I was exposed to a myriad of educational, social, and career opportunities.  For instance, GH provided me with a family-style and value-centered residential home, a scholarship to a private high school, tutoring, and continuous encouragement so that I could reach my academic potential.  In addition, GH introduced me to a limitless world where everything is possible and instilled in me the idea that goals can be reached.  As a result, I was able to attend Pepperdine University, study abroad in Argentina, intern in a congressional office, and participate in a nine-month, prestigious fellowship program in Washington, DC.  Moreover, following my fellowship, I was hired by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation. There I was able to learn extensively about immigration law and even had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.  These, among other experiences, have allowed me to grow and have paved my way towards an even brighter future.   
In addition, the people that run GH have been key contributors to the positive experience that I have had.  The sponsors, staff, and house parents have, in many unique ways, shaped my life.  They have served as a reliable support system in which I have not only found inspiration and encouragement, but also comfort and love.  GH not only represents an educational opportunity, but also a life-long relationship that I truly cherish.  I feel privileged to be part of such a great organization that has and continues to impact my life in wonderful ways.