Angela de Los Santos never imagined she would end up homeless. She and her six kids had their own place, but the conditions were deplorable. The kitchen ceiling was missing for months, and mice and cockroaches were coming into her home. Angela went to court thinking the judge would make her landlord fix everything and reimburse Angela for repairs she had made on her own. The judge told Angela that her landlord was a poor little old lady, and Angela needed to pay her the back rent. He advised the landlord that she could fix the apartment when she could.
Angela took her back rent to stay at a motel in Hollywood, but the money ran out in less than a month. She would take her kids to school, where they were able to eat breakfast and lunch. Angela would work to provide another night in the motel room. She did not make enough tips to afford permanent housing, so Angela provided her children with whatever she could from day to day.
On the route to the children’s school, she would see someone from PATH outreach. Every day, the outreach worker would ask her if she was ready to get help and come to The Midnight Mission Family Living Program. Angela had images in her head of what a mission looked like: full of alcoholic men, and she wanted no part of it. Until one day, right before Christmas, she was willing to see what The Midnight Mission (TMM) had to offer. Angela remembers being adopted by an agency for Christmas. She was overwhelmed to tears when someone from the agency asked if she could pray with her.
Angela and her children were finally on the road to recovery from homelessness. Angela knew she needed an education. She heard of other women going to a school in South Bay. Although she was not enrolled, she was determined to get an education. Angela slipped into the back of the class to learn everything she could. The teacher found out she was not on the roster, but she was so impressed with Angela’s determination, she found a sponsor to pay for her education.
She went from not knowing how to turn on a computer to be proficient in Microsoft Office. She began working, saving enough money to buy and car and move into her own apartment with her children. AmeriCorp asked Angela to be a part of a pilot program in Skid Row. She became a street-based outreach connector. She would reach out to people in the homeless community and connect them with critical services they might need to make a fresh start.
Through AmeriCorp, Angela was able to transform her ideas and passion into service. She grew while working with a team with the same goals and visions to help people experiencing homelessness. She discovered more than one right way to complete a task, and the essential quality of working together was unity.
In 2006, after opening Christmas gifts with her family, Angela was leaving to go to downtown Los Angeles to hand out Christmas gifts to homeless children. Then seven years old, Angela’s son, left his new toys to go downtown with her to help other children. When he graduated high school, he became an AmeriCorps member, motivated to serve by his mother’s example.
In 2017, Angela decided to go back to school full time to advance her professional career and is scheduled to graduate in 2021. She worked as an independent outreach coordinator, helping those who are in the same place she once was. In 2021, Angela became a community health worker program manager at Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Angela wants everyone to know it is never too late to start over and to learn something new.