|Speaker returns, talks to community|
by Mary Atkinson · January 22, 2014
Speaker Roy Juarez Jr. returned to the high school last Wednesday with a message for parents and other adults.
Juarez, 33, spoke to high school students, Dec. 11, about his life on the streets and how he continues to cope with the effects of family violence in his childhood.
After the speaking engagement, he said he met a West Liberty boy who told him that he, too, never celebrated milestones such as a birthday. In fact, the boy said he had not seen his mother since he was two months old and that a local science teacher had paid for him to fly to South Carolina to meet her.
"If we can make just a small difference in every young person's life that we impact - whether they're our own children or not - we can change tomorrow," Juarez said. "And as a community we just changed a little of who we are today for the better."
Juarez said he has traveled to every state in the country and looked into the eyes of over 100,000 youths who seem to have experienced similar situations.
"Eyes that have learned the same lessons I learned when I was seven - lessons my young friend learned that began at two months," Juarez said, "[Lessons that taught me] how to be angry. I learned how to hate and I learned how to hold a grudge."
He talked about how society teaches children that what happens in the home stays in the home, thus creating a situation where children feel they cannot talk to anyone about their feelings as well as poor academic performance.
"My parents were married for twenty years, yet there was this emptiness," he said, "Because I had this house, but I didn't have a home and there's a big difference. We want to create homes for our children. Not just the ones that we have but for all children."
Juarez went on to say that upon his return to West Liberty he brought birthday gifts for the young boy he met here because he wanted to show that he cared.
"It doesn't take all the money in the world to create an impact our kids' lives," he said, "It doesn't take all the time in the world. It just takes being present and it takes just showing me that you care."
But Juarez explained also how a parent can be hurting from a home situation as well, and that can cause them to be emotionally distant from a child.
Juarez said he told the boy that when he visits his mom to tell her that he loved her and, in text message, the boy thanked him for that advice.
"Because when I told her that, she also told me she loved me and started crying. So thanks, sir." the text read.
"See, kids, they have so much love in their hearts that we want to keep them as pure as possible before that all turns to anger because you can get there," Juarez said. "Then not only are you dealing with a broken child but dealing with a broken child inside your community that's making decisions that are going to affect you financially one way or another. It's going to affect your family one way or another. We're here for all children."
Later, in a personal interview, Juarez explained that he currently is not in a relationship because of the touring he does and because he has more healing to do.
"It would take time away from it and I'm not ready," he said. "It's been very therapeutic for me and my experiences make me feel that I have a purpose."
This speaking engagement is part of his 'Impact Tour.' For more information on Juarez visit his website at HomelessByChoice.com.