Pamela Diaz is lucky to be alive, much less be working as a server. She was born to a mother who was so addicted to meth, she was put in foster care as a kid.
It wasn't long until Pamela was a meth-addicted mother herself, who also had her kids taken away from her. When Pamela wound up behind bars she decided to re-focus her life.
Substance abuse counselors helped change her life and she completed a treatment program. Then she headed to Homebody Industries looking for a job.
"She came to turn her life around," said Erin Gutierrez, Pam's Homeboy Industries case manager.
Homeboy offers a variety of services for recently imprisoned and at-risk youth. Their motto is "Jobs Not Jails," and they offer job training in their on-site restaurants.
Pamela quickly excelled there, so much so that she was able to set up a reunion with her kids she once lost.
She recently moved into her own apartment and started a training program to become a substance abuse counselor herself. The problem? It costs $1,000 to finish, and Pamela is $300 short.
"This would be perfect for her in order for her to get through school and complete her goals," said Erin.
We surprised Pamela during her shift.
"You've been doing such a great job and I wanted to give you this $500 to help you pay for school," Erin told Pamela.
Pamela says she's been sober for three years now, and it's her kids that keep her strong.
"I've been through a lot," said Pamela. "I've been through a whole lot and I never thought I was going to get out of it."
She's thrilled for the chance to now pay forward the lessons her counselors taught her.
"At one point I thought of giving up. I knew I was too strong to give up and I didn't, and my life is great today because I didn't give up," said Pamela.