Anthony Rios builds from loss and strength to overcome his early start on the streets.
On the Streets of Lennox
by Anthony Rios
I was homeless at the age of eight.
My brothers, sisters, Mom and I lived on the streets because my mom lost her job. We slept in Lennox Park or at Mellows Restaints. It wasn’t cool. I could hear police sirens and gunshots every night. I barely slept, and when I did manage to sleep, I had nightmares.
I prayed every night, hoping that we’d be safe until morning. One night I saw my mom doing drugs. That hurt me. And seeing my mom in pain made me cry inside.
I went to school to bring back food for my family. I didn’t want to go to class because I was always dirty from sleeping in the park and there was no place for me to shower. I wanted to end my life on the spot, but I didn’t because my teacher Ms. Chambers said,
“Don’t do that, Anthony. You’re better than that. If you need anything, I’m always here for you.”
When my mom said that she was going to take us to our aunt’s house in Bakersfield, my brothers, sister and I were sad because our aunt was mean to us.
My brother Angel received help from a random lady named Judy who saw him on the street and asked, “Where do you live?”
Angel said, “Just take me to Lennox Park.”
When Angel arrived at Lennox Park, Judy saw what was going on and said, “You’ll stay with me tonight.”
My mom told Judy that she could take all us kids home with her that night.
“And don’t tell the kids they’re going to Bakersfield,” my mom said.
“Why not?” Judy asked.
“Because they’ll run away. They’re mistreated there.”
“I’ll take care of your children for three months,” Judy said.
And my mom agreed. Three months passed. There was no sign of my mom anywhere.
Three months turned into a year. I felt hopeless.
Judy adopted us. And not long after that my mom came and tried to get us back. But we had to go to court.
The judge awarded custody of all of us to Judy. I was heartbroken.
I’ve lived with Judy for the past seven years.
I can’t wait to move out of her house and take care of my mom.
And build a future for both of us.