Choosing a New Chapter

My name is Gloria Basulto and I’ve spent most of my childhood holidays incarcerated. During my last year of detention, I spent Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween and Thanksgiving locked up.

Before I was ever incarcerated, my holidays were awkward family gatherings, with arguments brewing as it got later in the night. Family discussions often centered on what the adults thought was best for me. I always stormed out, leaving to find clarity at friends’ homes. I remember coming back home late at night, after everything was said and done, hoping to forget about my day. Leaving home angry and out-of-control was the wrong thing to do and I made bad choices.
Back when I was inside juvenile hall, I remember every holiday having the same vibe. They felt indistinguishable from any other day. We wore the same old, faded gray and black clothes every day. Kids would talk about what they wanted the future to look like or how they would change the past. Others stayed quiet, and their silence spoke louder than those who shared.

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Learn more about Gloria and the Alumni Program by viewing this video from Yahoo!

Spending the holidays locked up was a reminder of how much I wanted to change so that I wouldn’t be in the same position ever again. This was the reality check that I needed—I had to grow up and take ownership of my actions. I began to change my perspective and started practicing new habits while I was inside. I daydreamed about what I wished my holidays were like. I dreamed of baking desserts and being around loved ones with smiles on their faces; arguing about silly holiday games and who gave the best present this year. Although I wished for the love and support I never had as a child, I realized that you can’t change or always be understood by your family. I could only control how I reacted to situations and I had to be ready to handle myself differently.
Dreaming of my freedom wasn’t enough. I was ready to do the hard work and start living the life that I deserved.
After the halls, I was put in a placement by the court. My holidays were still restricted, but I was able to spend time with my family and friends. After 16 months of living in placement, I was ready to leave and begin a new chapter in my life—I moved back in with my dad and graduated from high school.

Gloria  (far right) with some of her IOW family: (left to right) Lionel Tate, Christine Alegre, Jimmy Wu and Jesse Molina.

Gloria (far right) with some of her IOW family: (left to right) Lionel Tate, Christine Alegre, Jimmy Wu and Jesse Molina.

The holidays are still challenging with my family, but I am grateful for my freedom and being able to choose how and with whom I will celebrate. Holidays are meant to bring people together, so I choose to have compassion, to understand different points of views and to forgive those who have hurt me. Despite whatever circumstances I may find myself in during 2014, I choose to embrace gratitude.

– Gloria Basulto


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