Growing up in the city of Las Vegas was not easy. I had to grow up fast in order to take care of my younger brothers. Unfortunately, my parents were not home much because they both had to work long, hard hours so they could provide for the family. Many people hear the city name “Las Vegas” and think it’s all glamour and bright lights. But outside of the glamour and lights, there are many dangerous neighborhoods filled with gang-infested streets, poverty and violence. And those are the Las Vegas neighborhoods and streets that my brothers and I had to navigate and try to survive. We did not have much direction and had to fend for ourselves most of the time. Our parents certainly loved us, but because they had to work all the time to make ends meet, their lack of presence had many severe consequences for me and my brothers.
I was blessed to arrive at Boys Town in the spring of 1997. I was hungry for guidance and mentorship. After arriving at Boys Town, I quickly learned that I had the opportunity of a lifetime to succeed. I had a great support system with my Family-Teachers, Doug and Ann Lenz, who showed us true family values. I went from an immature 16-year-old boy running around the streets of Las Vegas to running onto a football field for the first time ever at Boys Town. Doug and Ann created an environment full of family love. I was fortunate Boys Town afforded my two younger brothers the opportunity to also come live at Boys Town. My brother Enrique arrived at Boys Town at the young age of 10, and my brother Frankie arrived at the early age of eight. During our time there, my brothers and I became the men we are today because of the love, lessons and family values we learned at Boys Town.
It has been 24 years since I graduated from Boys Town. My experience there helped me succeed in the United States Marines, and today I am a police officer in California. I have a beautiful wife, a 19-year-old daughter and a beautiful baby boy. As I reflect back, I realize that all of this would not have been possible if I had not come to Boys Town.
Some people might look at the many social skills my brothers and I were taught while at Boys Town, like following instructions and accepting feedback, as maybe too simplistic. But I’ve learned they carry so much value, because although they seem like simple skills everyone should know and use it truly amazes me how many people are not able to use and apply them. I still use and apply these skills every day, and I have passed them on to my children. As a parent, I instill the same skills and family values that were passed on to me from my Family-Teachers to my own children. The story of me and my brothers is only one of the multitudes of Boys Town success stories. Boys Town completely changed the trajectory of my life and the life of my family – and for that I am and will always be forever grateful.