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“Courage to me is not letting anything get you down”

Roberto lived in one of Casa Myrna's shelters with his mother. In his award-winning middle school essay, Roberto reflects on the meaning of courage.

Courage to me is not letting anything get you down. Max is a perfect example of courage. He never let pain get him down, and he always smiled and tried to overcome anything in his way. Courage is also being brave while staying in a different place than your home and sharing your space. This is what I had to do almost two years ago. I had the courage to stay in an unfamiliar place where I had to share my living space.

When I was 10 years old, I had to show courage when I had to move out of my home to go to a shelter. One sunny afternoon when I was coming home from school my mom told me, “We have to live in a new place.” I took the news hard. I was as furious as a bull ramming its prey, and I knew in my heart it must have hurt my mom too. Unfortunately, my mother had problems with the rent and the landlord took my mom to court. We became homeless. We put all our things in storage and it felt as though my whole life was in a storage bin.

Once nice breezy morning, the administrator of our new place picked my mom and me up in the South End. I felt nervous and for a second, I was shaking up and down like a leaf. I shook her hand and found out the place was called Casa Myrna Vazquez, named after a Hispanic actress. The worker’s name was Quine and she was very kind and generous. When I got there, Quine took us to our room on the 4th floor. After walking up those stairs, I felt tired and as slow as a sloth. I thought to myself that I’m just going to have to get used to it. It was a medium sized room, painted gray with white windows. I liked it, but it wasn’t as nearly as big as our apartment. We put away our things and went downstairs. I found out we needed to share a fridge, stove and bathroom, so I got a little disappointed. I thought to myself, “I wasn’t used to sharing like this!”

After Casa Myrna Vazquez, we moved to yet another shelter called Horizons. I don’t love shelters, but at least we are not on the streets and we have food and clothing. Each time we moved, I had to think, “How am I going to make new friends? What will I have to share? Will everyone be nice? This time in my life was a hard time. During the process of moving, I had to show the courage to leave my friends and make new ones and go on a new school bus and try to get to know people there. I had to show courage to share my things and common areas, and to be strong for my mother. In Horizons we had more of our own space, but it still wasn’t “our” apartment.

I have to show courage everyday to make it as normal as possible. I still have hope that one day we will have our own place and my mother and I will have some privacy. Courage is to be brave, and I do this every day in the shelter. It also is to have motivation to do well in school and someday have a place of our own.


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