PAULA It was summer of 2011 when I realized my family no longer had a home.
I was 11, and hearing the words "We're homeless" come out of my father's mouth didn't affect me until night, when we had to pack as many clothes as we could and put them in our car. Four months filled with happiness, a bit less worry and, most of all, being united as a family.
Three days before I was 15, my grandmother passed away.
She was like my mother — we even slept in the same room.
I decided to come to the United States and embarked on my trip alone.
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During the journey, seven strangers and I lived in terrible conditions — we slept in the mountains and walked for hours among the thickets.YESSENIA I grew up learning K'iche', which is my first language, in Guatemala.My family survived by farming and harvesting for ourselves.I've been through traumatic events, but I've come out a warrior.LAURYN Hurricanes can devastate a house that hasn't been built with a stable foundation.This will be the only enrollment period for the Class of 2019.Applicants selected for the program will be notified by April 15, 2019.It was then that I realized my life was going to change. My mother lost a baby, which affected my family greatly, and I had a choice to make: Behave badly, with the excuse of being homeless, or achieve the best grades I could and not give my family another worry. In May 2013, my father reached out to the Weingart Center, which helped us find a place to live. That September, we finally had a home, a stable place to call our own, where we would make new memories and start over.The Salvation Army took us in at one of their shelters in downtown L. One year later, my dad got a phone call from the Salvation Army, asking if my father and I were willing to participate in its annual Rock the Kettle concert.One of the last nights, we spent seven hours hidden under a bus; the pain was so strong I thought I would die.The space was very narrow, and I felt I was losing my legs because I no longer could feel them.