Hello, my name is Dalia and I am now 21. I would like to tell you what Home Away From Homelessness means to me. I am from Mexico City and a proud member of the Home Away family. In Mexico my family had a comfortable life with a house, a car, and enough money for all the necessities. The economy was down, so when I was 10, we moved to the U.S., living with an aunt. When that fell through, we became homeless, and found shelter at Hamilton Family Center in the Tenderloin. The first few years were tough. The shelter we were in had only one room for both my parents, my sister, and me, and living in such a crowded and chaotic place was very stressful. My English was still very poor, so school was frustrating and often felt impossible. I didn’t know if I would ever fit in.
When I found Home Away, I immediately felt welcome. The School House program is located in a big house in the Fort Mason area, which is open, and green, and calm. The building was busy with all kinds of kids and adults from different walks of life. All the kids were from such different places and circumstances, and the whole place came to feel like a family. The tutors helped me to understand my homework, and, at Home Away, I felt like I was now part of a community of success.
The volunteers were a big part of my growth as well. Not only did they help me learn the language and succeed in school, but just as important, the volunteers were all different, with different stories, and jobs, and hobbies. Getting to know them allowed me to visualize the different lives that were possible here. One of them even became my mentor and she still helps me today!
And then there were the outdoor adventures. Things like going water rafting, snowboarding, and climbing challenged me both physically and fear-wise. Through my many challenges and accomplishments I came to feel more grounded in my body and in what I do, who I am and what I can become, rather than how I look to boys.
Before I found Home Away, life felt stressful, threatening, and lonely. I really felt lost. At Home Away I found so many important things: learning, courage, identity, a mentor, and an introduction to the possibilities of life in the United States. At Home Away I found a family. Thank you for supporting the Home Away oasis for kids like me.