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Nathan Cabrera

Nathan Cabrera has never really had a childhood—he's had to be mature and responsible almost his entire life. Born to a 14-year old mother who used drugs and subsequently had three more children by three different fathers, Nathan became the one responsible for taking care of the children while his mother worked afternoon and evening jobs. He could never spend time with friends because he was busy feeding and bathing his younger siblings and making sure their homework was done. With a father in prison and a teenage mother, Nathan said it was more like being raised by a peer than by a parent, and the only time he felt like a kid was when he was with his grandmother, who lives in North Carolina.

Along with juggling numerous responsibilities at home, Nathan worked hard at school, determined to show his siblings that education was the key to a normal life. But after years of watching his mother act like an irresponsible teenager, he himself eventually became rebellious and reckless. Concerned about Nathan’s behavior and talk of suicide, his pastor intervened and began working with the family. Nathan’s relationship with his mother improved and he helped her earn her GED. She even held down a regular job for a while but could not stop surrounding herself with the wrong crowd.

In September 2007 she was killed in retaliation for helping a friend escape from the control of a Latino gang. His father then tried to come back into Nathan’s life but was physical and controlling and even attempted to kidnap Nathan one night. Fortunately, Pastor Frank again was there for Nathan and helped arrange a safe place for him to live. Nathan’s siblings moved in with relatives of their respective fathers. Currently, in addition to maintaining his high academic standards, Nathan is running a t-shirt business with Pastor Frank, encouraging teens to avoid temptation with their t-shirts’ unique designs and simple messages. He said he is looking forward to earning a business management degree and to bringing his siblings back together one day soon to all live as a family again.