An Old Navy employee in Oregon uses a national spotlight, via “20/20,”to highlight teen homelessness.
Dakota Garza is 17. She’s a customer service associate in Medford. Here’s what she’s got to say:
I grew up used to constant change. This job is big for me because I finally had a set schedule. There is no change. That was the strangest part for me.
Growing up was hard. My mom had a lot of problems. I don’t really know what’s wrong. I just knew she had her own issues.
There was always a lot of chaos. We’d move all the time – I had no control over where we’d end up or for how long.
School became the only place that I felt I could control. So I studied hard and played soccer. It was the only place that made sense to me. But my mom, she’d just get in the car and go. We’d just be driving somewhere.
Last year, we didn’t have a place to stay. We drove up highway 5, toward San Diego. There wasn’t a plan. We argued a lot. She left me at my cousin’s house and I decided I was done. I didn’t want to live this life with her anymore. I stayed with my cousin until I decided to take a bus up to Oregon, get back in school, and find a job.
That’s when I found the transitional living program that helps homeless kids. I enrolled in high school. I applied to Old Navy and was super excited when I got the job. I prepared for a week for that interview. I’ve been there a year now.
I haven’t talked to my mother in a year. I don’t feel I really need her right now – I just don’t think she’s ready for us again. I graduate from high school in June. I’m hoping to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
To me, my story is just a story. It’s easy to give up. I had to motivate myself. You have to push yourself through – if people are rude, or you hear the word “no,” or whatever it is, you can’t let it stop you.
If you keep going, eventually you’ll get somewhere.
Working at Old Navy has been great for me. Having a job taught me the discipline that I didn’t have before. If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.