JAVIER ARANGO IMMIGRATED to the United States from Colombia as a political refugee – at the tender age of 13. Just two years after settling in Oakland, California, Javier was abandoned by his father and was left alone on the streets of the inner city.
By the age of 17, it became clear to Javier that he was headed straight to jail or death. Instead, Javier chose to seek help from Catholic Charities of the East Bay and there he found mentoring, relocation, job training and trauma therapy – all with the unwavering support of CCEB counselor, Ricardo Pena.
“Ricardo was the person who helped me feel safe and valued,” Javier said.
Javier thrived, thanks to the vital programs of CCEB. He now pays forward the help he received by facilitating workshops in the schools and working with at-risk youth, many of them in danger of the same fate he once faced.
“Working with youth makes me feel good because I’m helping heal my community and myself. Before coming through these doors, I didn’t see people who showed interest in inner city youth; by being here I can give them the second chance at life they don’t get in the streets.”