Norberto’s Story: Dedicated Dad with Gratitude
Life was a challenge for Norberto before he came to the Mission. He grew up with siblings from different fathers, and his grandmother did her best to raise him, but he began selling drugs when he was thirteen. His childhood was enormously unstable – at eleven years old he ran away from home, staying periodically with friends and neighbors. He now recognizes his environment during those years was destructive. “I found more affection in strangers’ houses than I did at my own family’s house,” Norberto says. The police caught him several times selling and using drugs, but as a juvenile, he avoided prosecution.
Norberto continued selling drugs as a young adult. When he learned that his girlfriend was pregnant and he had a son on the way, he recognized that he needed to change his life. “I realized when the baby was coming that I had to stop selling drugs,” he says. When his girlfriend went to prison early in her pregnancy, Norberto knew he would have to take care of his son alone. After Camren was born, Norberto decided he needed a much better environment in which to raise his child, so he asked his son’s Healthy Start counselor for housing assistance. The counselor suggested they investigate the Mission, and after contemplating the decision for six months, they applied to and moved into the Mission.
At first, Norberto was unsure what to expect living at the Mission. “All I was picturing was taking my son to a shelter, and I was terrified that he would get sick, have rashes, and stay dirty,” he now admits. But after his initial interview with the Mission’s case managers, Norberto’s reluctance quickly changed to relief. He remembers fondly the case managers that day and the compassion they showed him. “They were stern and strong, but you could hear the kindness in their voices…They made me feel like my baby was safe and loved, and that’s all I cared about.”
Once he knew that Camren would be safe and taken care of, Norberto began thinking about his next steps. He participated in and completed the Jobs Partnership program and recently earned vocational certifications from Valencia College. He is now working towards his Journeyman’s certificate, which will confirm him as a fully qualified electrician. After receiving his certification, Norberto plans to open his own business as an electrician.
Norberto is extremely grateful to the Mission for the opportunity it provided to transform his life. He also appreciates Mission partners like you, who make everything at the Mission possible. “I want to tell the people who have donated, thank you, I love you, I respect you, and I honor you. I know God does, too. God put you here for a reason, and I appreciate that reason. You donate selflessly and give hope to people who have given up. You make it possible for people to come here and work. You give hope to people who started believing that there was no God, who started believing that nothing is waiting for them but death. You give people another chance at life. For that, I commend you. Thank you.”