From ‘Why Me?’ to ‘Do Something’

Anthony Del Toro success story
as told to Amanda Nyren (Groupon staff writer)

By the time he was nine years old, Anthony Del Toro had been in seven different schools. His family was on the run a lot due to his father’s clandestine career. For this reason, Anthony never had a chance to make school friends, but stuck mostly with family members who hung out in the streets and seemed destined to follow in Anthony’s father’s footsteps.

Anthony felt he had been born into a life of crime and violence. He saw a lot of jail time in his future. He didn’t see any way out. []

But things started to change when a teenage Anthony met someone who believed in him and gave him a chance to do something different. That someone was Joe Omega, who put Anthony in UC Berkeley’s Upward Bound program, where he got a taste of college life while spending six weeks staying on the university’s campus and taking classes. “It really exposed me to a new life. It gave me a dream,” Anthony says.

cure_violence_partnership_bannerFrom that experience, Anthony found the confidence and the hope to change his ways. “[In the past] I did more complaining than I did doing,” he says. “I had to change my attitude from ‘why me’ to ‘do something.’ I had to change myself, my friends, how I spoke, my attitude, my behavior.”

Anthony ended up going to six different high schools before he graduated, but he did graduate. He even went on to college and hopes to complete his college degree soon. Instead of sacrificing his life to violence, crime and prison, he’s chosen to give it to others who face the same adversity he once faced. As program supervisor with California Youth Outreach, he oversees street outreach in east Oakland. His advice for the clients he serves? “Do something with your life and stop complaining. Ask yourself what you want to do and make a plan because if you don’t, you’ll just drift.”

Because someone was once willing to give him a chance, Anthony is now a “mentor, a big brother, and a friend” to his community. He’s a father, too. “I have two beautiful kids now and I don’t want them to go through the hell I went through,” he says. “I’m not ever going back to that life.”

– Amanda Nyren