National Homeless by Choice Tour comes to Grand Rapids; speaker still taking on more area pro bono speaking engagements

Pro bono tour brings hope to teens; Roy Juarez Jr. aims to inspire 100,000 people by December 2011

LAS VEGAS – Inspirational speaker Roy Juarez Jr. and his national Homeless by Choice Tour are coming to Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday, Nov. 30, though Friday, Dec. 2, to spread a message of hope and forgiveness. Juarez will speak to approximately 1,400 students of all ages pro bono at three middle schools.

From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30, Juarez will speak to students at Westwood Middle School, 1525 Mt. Mercy Drive NW.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, he will move onto Alger Middle School, 921 Alger St. SE, from 8 to 9:45 a.m. and Kelloggsville Middle School, 4650 S. Division Ave. S, from 2:05 to 3:05 p.m.

The tour concludes its Grand Rapids leg from 10 to 11 a.m. at Gerald Middle School, 851 Madison Ave. SE.

Teen life can be filled with drama. But for many teens – more than anyone would want to imagine – that drama doesn’t come from typical teen angst and out-of-control hormones. Many troubled teens’ bad behavior stems from abuse or difficulties at home. For these teens – who have experienced much more than anyone so young should have to – life has proven to be hopeless and difficult. As a result, too many goals and dreams are abandoned.

Juarez knows all too well what an abusive childhood can be like, having experienced a violent home life and his parents’ eventual divorce that left Juarez homeless at age 14. Left to care for a 9-year-old brother and a 2-year-old sister, Juarez dropped out of high school and struggled to survive.

But his life took a turn for the better when, as a homeless 17-year-old, Juarez snuck into a conference for a free meal. As Juarez ate in the corner of the room, the conference’s keynote speaker shared her story of hope and overcoming odds.

“I asked myself, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I have my dreams?’” Juarez said. “Then I realized the only reason is that I stopped dreaming.”

After that, Juarez went on to finish high school and college, and he hasmade it his mission to share his story of forgiveness, hope and learning how to dream again.

In life, we get bitter or we get better,” Juarez said. “I spent many years feeling bitter about the hand I was dealt. That got me nowhere. I finally realized that, while I had no control over my past, I could control my future. The future was mine.”

Juarez has spoken to audiences across the country, entering some of America’s toughest neighborhoods with the hope that sharing his story will inspire others. He recently appeared on CNN with his mentor in a segment leading up to Latinos in America. His spell-binding story even caught the attention of the well-established New York Times bestseller, the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, and was featured in the Extraordinary Teens edition in 2009.

Now Juarez brings the same kind of hope he received to others. Juarez speaks to all age groups, but he dedicates much of his time to his “MyBag, MyHome: Homeless by Choice Tour.” Through the tour, Juarez aims to inspire more than 100,000 students by December 2011 with a message of never giving up on life, or their dreams, and understanding the value of a higher education.

Juarez is still accepting additional pro bono speaking engagements in the area, as his goal is to inspire as many students as possible. For more information on Juarez or to book him for a speaking engagement, visit www.royjuarez.com or www.homelessbychoice.com, call 702-445-3754, or follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/royjuarezjr.

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