Profile: Gabriela Cabrera
Every time Gabriela Cabrera passes by a certain motel in Carson, it reminds her of how far she’s come.
The days were harder back when she and her tiny son were living there. On those days she’d wake up at 4am just so she could drop him off at daycare in time to make it to her job at One Stop in the South Bay. It was tough and exhausting, but better than the toxic and abusive relationship she’d fled from. She and her child were on the run, alternating nights spent in their car and motel rooms. It was better than the abuse, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. She knew she had to get her and her son to somewhere truly safe.
That somewhere was Homelight. Started by The Midnight Mission in 1994, HomeLight provides more than just a safe residence for families shattered by abuse, addiction, poverty and hopelessness. It provides a comprehensive path to becoming healthy, happy and self-sufficient. Victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and those dealing with issues of sobriety and other unthinkable circumstances can find solace in knowing that HomeLight is a safe place where families can recuperate and be restored to a self-sufficient life.
Gabriela thrived in the program and benefited greatly from their computer classes, money management classes and most especially, therapy. Once a week psychologist provides therapy for Homelight residents. “I needed to be in the right mind space to be good mother and to be that stability that my child needed. They also have a savings program where they take a certain percentage out of every check. When I exited the program, I had enough money for a security deposit, first month’s rent, bought my son a bed and all the furniture we needed. They make sure you leave with a solid foundation that you did not come in with.”
Ricardo Rosales, Homelight’s Director, gives much of the credit to the individuals themselves. “Homelight is the program but the residents do all the work. Something that is so important for those families that come into the program, is working on letting go of the anger that a lot of them come in with. When they have a life that they have had, and they get dealt those bad cards you tend to develop a rough exterior. Something that they are taught through therapy that the program provides is learning how to forgive and forget. Computer classes, job development, savings program is all important but working on the mind and spirit is our bigger task. Preparing them to have the right tools once they leave our program is the bigger mission. The residents that leave the program then become part of the alumni program that is basically like a big family. They continue to check-in throughout the years and have an open-door policy to whatever they might need in the future. The important task is to help them emotionally heal before anything else.”
Homelight’s Director Ricardo Rosales and
The city’s basketball legacy is a part of what makes it even more special to her. The ninth child of a drug addicted mother, Gabriela found solace and escape in basketball. “I would play outside on the park courts until it got dark and I could not see the net anymore. I started dribbling a ball and playing when I was 6 years old. I would love for more kids like myself to find a positive focus in sports that keeps you occupied and channels all the surrounding negative energy into positive energy.”
As for the new projects in Inglewood, Gabriela is excited and optimistic for the city, her kids and herself. “I think it’s something so positive for the community and so important for the youth. Developments of this size will provide local residents with the chance to be employed close to home.
I work in Santa Monica and it takes me almost 2 hours to get home every day. I would love to have the ability to find a job close to home. It’s important for the youth to focus on positive role models in a prosperous environment. Like so many others, basketball is my passion. If young kids have the chance to live so close to an arena and stadium they might have the opportunity be inside a positive environment.”
Learn more about HomeLight: http://www.midnightmission.org/program-services/homelight/