Basilio’s Story

by | Nov 27, 2018 | Success Stories, YouthBuild

At the young age of 20, Basilio M. is an amazing example of what grit, determination, hard work, and a little help can do to transform a life.

Born and raised in west Houston with his mom, four brothers, and one sister, Basilio had to become the “father figure” at an early age.

“When I was seven, my father left us,” said Basilio, “and when I was 13, I had to start working in a restaurant as a dishwasher to help support my family.”

Always a hard worker, Basilio managed to do well in school, play on the wrestling team, and go to work every day.

“In middle school, my schedule was full. I had wrestling practice in the morning, then school, work, and then home,” said Basilio, “I had to work to support my family. And, I managed to do that for years, without much sleep.”

Once Basilio got to high school, his family needed him to step up even more.

“I dropped out after freshman year to work more,” said Basilio, “my mom asked me to quit school so I could make more money. As the oldest son I had to take that parent role and it was up to me to help provide for the family.”

By age 16, Basilio was working two jobs. He continued to work in the restaurant and got a second job in construction. But, after a while, things began to go downhill for him.

“It was when I dropped out that my life started going downwards,” said Basilio, “I got addicted to pills and started smoking marijuana and drinking a lot. That lasted for almost a whole year.”

Because of all the stress and anxiety he felt, Basilio gave up on working and gave in to his addictions. His mom kicked him out of the house.

“I had nowhere to go so I was staying at abandoned apartments, sometimes with friends sometimes by myself, and that’s when I was lucky,” said Basilio, “when I couldn’t find an apartment to stay in, I slept on park benches – where ever I could find a spot to catch some sleep. I started making contacts in the drug trade and looking for ways to make easy money. I was depressed and tired of everything.”

Basilio was at an all-time low. He began selling drugs.

“After a short time of dealing, I was caught and sentenced to three years,” said Basilio, “but since I had a clean record they gave me a good deal: five months’ detention, then an ankle monitor and one year probation. After completing detention, I could go back to live with my mom and siblings.”

“During those five months, I started thinking so hard about my life: What am I doing? Where is this taking me?” said Basilio, “then I started thinking about what my goals were. I started setting goals, and when I got out I knew I would achieve my goals.”

“I set five goals: #1 – get my diploma or GED; #2 – change my ways with drugs; #3 – prove that I can become somebody; #4 – become the role model that my younger brothers need; #5 and the most important goal – do all of this for myself.”

Upon his release, Basilio immediately began to work toward achieving his goals.

“I started completing them, one by one,” said Basilio, “and nothing was going to stop me. I got to a point where I knew I had to make these changes in my life. I heard about YouthBuild, and that’s where SER comes in.”

YouthBuild is a SER program where 17-24 year-olds who have dropped out of school can earn their GED while gaining skills in construction, earning a stipend, and helping to rebuild and repair housing in low-income communities.

“I got into YouthBuild, earned my GED, Osha 10, and NCCER credentials,” said Basilio, “and, at the same time, I joined another SER youth program called “This Way Ahead” to upgrade my resume and to learn people skills so I could get that confidence back that I had lost. I knew it would help me get a job.”

This Way Ahead offered Basilio job readiness, financial training and then an internship with Banana Republic, where Basilio’s strong work ethic was recognized.

“I continued working with SERJobs to find a long-term career path,” said Basilio, “and met with Jimmy Perez, manager of La Chamba. Jimmy offered me a job that would give me experience working with people and learning teamwork, handling money, making connections.”

“SER has been great, it helped me a lot – look at where I am now,” said Basilio, “I’m going past my limits – no limit will stop me from achieving my goals.”

As Basilio went through SER programs, he learned useful job skills along the way. More importantly, he learned life skills that will be with him forever.

“SER helped me so much in gaining leadership skills and other important life skills. It helped me realize that I have a voice and can help others see what they can become,” said Basilio, “after going through SER programs, I feel comfortable having conversations with new people. I feel confident for the first time in my life.”

“Entering 2019 is going to be all about my future,” said Basilio, “at this very moment, my work at La Chamba has opened up new doors for me. My network is growing more and more, I’m meeting new people, opportunities are opening up, so many people now recognize me in a great way, in a way that reflects my value. Before SER, it was “Basilio, the dropout” or “Basilio, the drug addict”, but now it’s all positive. Life is exciting because, even though I don’t know exactly what’s waiting for me, I do know it’s going to be great.”

“I’m planning for my future now because I want to be prepared,” said Basilio, “I want a wife and children and the ability to give them a good life so they don’t have to go through the things that I’ve been through.”

Basilio spends 3-1/2 to 4 hours on the bus getting to work at La Chamba every day. His determination and grit inspire everyone he meets.

“One of my main goals is to help youth by sharing my story,” said Basilio, “if I can teach them now, it will help them avoid the problems that I’ve had. Especially now when they’re young.”

For now, Basilio is living at home and continuing to provide for his mom, sister, and brothers, and for the most part, everything is going great.

“One of my brothers is struggling right now, but I am there for him,” said Basilio, “I’m encouraging him to come to SER because I know that his life can be changed there.”

‘I believe the best way I can thank SERJobs is to become successful,” said Basilio, “I want to show them what they did for me – what they helped me become.”

At SER, we work every day to help individuals from low-income communities transform their lives through education, training, employment, and financial empowerment services.