Organized by: Raul Lopez
Do you believe in second chances? I want to believe in second chances, more than anything. Now, perhaps you’ve already made up your mind. But perhaps, there is a tiny chance you’d be willing to take a few minutes to read a story. My story, to be precise. 24, the number of hours in a day. 24, also the number of years I have lived. My life has been unconventional— unconventional in the sense that many things have happened in my life. Some of these events have been pleasant, while others, well I wouldn’t wish them upon anyone, even my worst enemy, if I had one. I’ll give you another number: 22. The number of foster homes I had been in before turning 18. It is NOT my intention to victimize myself by revealing this number (my love for horses came from having lived with a nice family), but I can’t say that all that instability had no effect on me, because it did. I had the misfortune of learning the meaning of abuse at a very young age. If I could do anything to prevent another person, especially a child, from getting hit, believe me, I would. I made a terrible decision in September 2010 out of recklessness and sheer ignorance. Although I have taken full responsibility for my actions, I am unable to move forward. I have done everything in my power to add goodness to the world — I try my best to help people — but I am stuck. I found myself at the darkest point of my life. Despite my utter disgust towards sexual crimes, I found myself behind bars, ironically, for that same reason. Out of poor judgement, I had sex with a minor at age 18. After completing my sentence, I tried restarting my life, but I quickly realized that my life would be an extension of my time behind the steel-barred prison — I was not prepared for the life of an ex-offendor. No matter where how I tried to move forward, I couldn’t get rid of my shadow — the shadow that branded me as a sexual offender. I tried so hard to get rid of that shadow, to the point where I was convinced that taking my life was the best way. I thought I would rid the world of one more burden in the process. But there are a handful of good people that have empowered me to move past this phase in my life. They have seen and shown me exactly the type of person I can be, despite my history. They provided me with the hope I thought I would never have. The hope I needed so badly. A special person came into my life after my release from prison — my mentor. Brilliant, confident, full of kindness and love; my mentor got to know the real me, without the prejudices that plague my life. He is the kind of person that reminds you that there is still undeniable goodness in the world. A perfect stranger, willing to “pay-it-forward” after living a shockingly hard life himself. A human who has helped me change my perspective on life. A person who has offered to take me under his wing to help me become a person that makes the world a better place. I cannot be that person without your help. I have been offered a job in Mexico and a chance to begin again. Most importantly, this opportunity will allow me to be under the direct guidance of my mentor. There, I will be able to work where English speakers are needed. In the long run, I dream of opening an orphanage, a place open to children who struggle like I did. I want to live in a place where I can contribute to society, without being paralyzed by my past. A place where I can start a family with a future. Please help me make this opportunity for a second chance a reality. I cannot get to Mexico without a Visa or funds for getting there. I cannot demand that you suspend your code of ethics for a total stranger. But please, before you brand me as a criminal that deserves the life I have been living, please try to understand that I truly want to make a change.