Beto is a gang intervention specialist for the Omaha Police Department and the City of Omaha. He is Mexican American. Beto struggled with school due to many factors in his life, a dysfunction family, addictions issues and gang involvement, Beto received his Associates degree in Chemical Dependency. He spoke at the White House and shared experiences on gang involvement in the Latino community.
Gonzales grew up in the South Omaha barrio he serves today. He does outreach with truants, many of whom come from dysfunctional homes. He grew up in a troubled home himself and acted out through gangs, alcohol and drugs. He skipped school. The Chicano Awareness Center changed his life’s course. A social worker there saw potential in him he didn’t see in himself. Then he was introduced to a nun, Sister Joyce Englert, who worked as a chemical dependency counselor. “She heard me out,” he says. “I talked to her about my drug addiction, how I couldn’t keep a relationship and all kinds of crap going on. What’s cool about that is she asked me if I would go talk to kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol even though she knew I was an abuser. She said, ‘I think it’s important kids hear your story.’ I found myself crying right along with the kids as I shared it. She told me I had a passion for this and asked what I thought about becoming a counselor. “With her help I got a chemical dependency associates degree from Metropolitan Community College, which led me into working in the schools with adolescents dealing with addiction issues, and I loved it, I just loved it”