Last year around this time, Wilson Zúñiga, had to leave his house and became homeless. He was just 17 years old. After staying in a temporary host home through LAYC, he was finally able to rent a room on his own. Through it all, Wilson remained positive and worked very hard to move forward in life.
Wilson is an exceptional young man. When he was a little five-year-old boy living in Guatemala, he promised his grandmother that he would come to the United States to work hard and send her money so she could buy more cheese to produce more quesadillas, which she used to bake and sell to make a living. Wilson was 15, his grandmother had an accident that left her with a permanent arm injury, and as a result, she could no longer continue baking and selling quesadillas. It was right then that Wilson made the difficult decision to travel unaccompanied to the United States so he could work and financially support his grandmother, whom he also considers his mother. He also wanted to reunite with his biological mother who left him when he was just weeks old.
Since arriving in Langley Park, MD in 2013, Wilson has devoted his life to work hard in school during the day and work in the evenings and weekends to support himself and send money to his grandmother. Wilson also gives part of his earnings to his younger siblings who live in a different household in Maryland. He spends his little free time practicing his passion: singing. Wilson’s dream is to graduate from high school and one day become a professional singer.
Last holiday season, Wilson needed a lot of help getting his life started as an independent person, and many friends of LAYC pitched in. The room he had found to rent was in disrepair, he didn’t have any furniture, and most of all, he needed people to believe in him and his dreams. Determined, as usual, Wilson was set in turning the neglected room into his home. He asked for help getting some paint and cleaning supplies, and in just a few days, Wilson transformed the space into a cozy and clean place, and little by little he managed to bring stability to his life.
LAYC supporters came together to help Wilson furnish his room so that he could have a place that allowed him to live with dignity and that provided him with a comfortable place to do his schoolwork and rest.
I want to take this moment to thank everyone who supported me when I needed it the most.
Thanks to Lori, the Board of Directors, and staff of the Latin American Youth Center for all the support they have given me. They gave me clothes, furniture for my room, and a little money to help me with rent. And, they made me feel confident and hopeful that I could overcome challenging times. Thank you to Armando Trull for making me smile at Christmas when he and his friends invited me to celebrate with them. I also want to thank the Sandino family for hosting me in their home while I looked for a place to live. All these people are my heroes. I want to share that I recently received my work permit, and I started a new job. My next goal is to graduate from high school next summer. Wilson Zúñiga
Wilson is a very kind and generous human being who has put his needs aside so that he can cover the needs of his loved ones first.