Rafael Sarango – #VoicesofJAF

July 14, 2016 by mitchellcohen
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16:  Attendees and award winners are seen at the Jefferson Awards Foundation 2016 National Ceremony on June 16, 2016 in Washington City.  (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for Jefferson Awards Foundation)

“I’m so grateful for the Jefferson Awards and the inspiration I’ve gotten today. I’m 100% inspired to keep working every day even harder to make their voices heard.”

Rafael Sarango calls it “love in action.” To the homeless youth he serves, it’s called hope. As Manager of the Young Adult Resource Center in Houston, each day Rafael offers assistance with housing, employment, education, and well-being to dozens of young adults ages 18-25.

In June, he was presented with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefitting Local Communities at the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony.

Rafael helped found the center with the Salvation Army of Houston to give a voice to what he calls an invisible population — young people who go through tremendous hardship with few resources or helping hands.

A young man named Justin was forced to join a gang at age 12 by committing an act of violence. At age 14, a young woman named Olivia was dancing in cabarets to make enough money to get by. Trey lived in 58 different households before turning 18. Through it all, they’ve held out hope for a brighter future and it’s Rafael’s mission to transform their hope into something positive.

Justin was able to graduate high school, and today he has a job as a security guard and his own apartment. He says, “Documentation for school, transcripts, social security card, GED classes, high school diploma. I got all of these thanks to Mr. Rafael.”

Winning a Jefferson Award inspired Rafael to keep fighting even harder for young people like Justin. He said, “I’m 100% inspired to keep working every day even harder to make their voices heard.” To learn more, visit salvationarmyhouston.org. Rafael was selected by Telemundo Houston to attend our National Ceremony.

Donate today to honor more heroes who deserve recognition and inspire more Americans than ever before to engage in public service. 

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