From the moment you walk into a room, Ellis Sanchez is the first person to greet you with an outstretched hand and a huge smile. He has a wonderfully warm personality and radiates positivity, but like the Freedom Writers, his home life does not reflect who he appears to be at school.
Ellis’ classmates used to wonder out loud why he always wore the same tattered Rolling Stones sweatshirt every day. They teased him about it, but the truth was that that was the only sweatshirt Ellis had time to grab when he, his sister, and his mother ran away from their home and Ellis’ abusive father.
As far back as Ellis can remember, his drug dealing and using father abused his mother. Most nights Ellis, his sister, and his mother would crawl into the same bed after blockading the door with anything that would make noise if their father tried to enter. Even the family cat would sleep by the door and jump on his feet to warn them if Ellis’ father was approaching. On these nights his mother would go to bed in a trench coat filled with her wallet, keys, and other necessities just in case they had to leave abruptly.
When Ellis’ mother realized that her husband was hitting her son with coat hangers when she was at work, she finally knew she had to leave. At the end of 2012, the family left with barely more than the clothes on their backs and slept on the floor of a friend’s home until they ended up at the Women’s Shelter of Long Beach. It was there that Ellis was able to get shelter, new clothes, and counseling that revealed to him that domestic abuse was not an everyday occurrence in all households.
Ellis has not let his father’s abuse define him. Instead, he has learned lessons from his childhood and works tirelessly to give back to those who face similar struggles. Ellis volunteers his time at the Women’s Shelter of Long Beach, is in Youth Leadership in Long Beach, and spent his previous Saturday in a bear costume making kids smile at a local festival. This fall Ellis will enter college and begins earning his degree in Political Science. His dream is to become the Mayor of Long Beach so that he can help protect as many families as possible. We are so proud to have Ellis as one of our 2016 Freedom Writer Scholars.
With their families in attendance, Ellis and 15 other recipients will be honored on June 12th during a brunch held at the Freedom Writers Foundation.
Since 1998, the Freedom Writers Foundation has been providing scholarships to Freedom Writers and other at-risk students. We have awarded over 100 scholarships to graduating seniors at the Freedom Writers’ alma mater, Wilson High School. Our scholarship offers funds for students who are often overlooked and need someone to believe in them.
Without your generous donation, the Foundation would not be able to give to these inspiring students. Thank you for your continued support.
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