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Let me tell you how it all happened. My name is Paul Sandoval. I grew up in East Los Angeles with my parents. I remember waking up to the smell of Abulita Hot Chocolate and the warmth of the oven; my mom made conchitas every Sunday morning because they were my dad’s favorite.

My dad, well he’s my inspiration for love and music. I can still picture him in the living room; on his plaid grey chair, with a coffee in hand, singing as my mom baked. He’s playing his favorite Joe Huston and Big Joe Turner songs. I can hear the swing…. Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands …. Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands.

I love music, I now write my own songs and I rap!

My life has always been filled with love and music; but I’ve always wanted a little family of my own. At the age of 21, I decided to leave home in order to become more independent. I live in a group home with a few roommates and a caregiver. There I have learned to be more self-reliant and resourceful. I’m even able to make myself Abuelita Hot Chocolate when I’m feeling homesick.

My life really took a turn when I joined PALS Inc. PALS is a program that is helping me develop the skills and training to have a job and my very own apartment. I even found two new friends, Steven and Jesus, who love music almost as much as me. Most importantly, at PALS I met Samantha, the future Mrs. Sandoval.

Samantha is perfect. She’s bubbly and loves to talk. Sometimes she talks for hours, I say, “uhu” or “cool”, every twenty minutes. I love that. She’s also very tough. She pushes me to join my Direct Support Staff for daily walks and she encourages me to exercises and to eat balanced meals.

Earlier this year, before COVID, PALS hosted a beautiful Valentines Day Dance, with food and romantic music. The kind of music that makes you want to hold hands and share a dance. Samantha was wearing her favorite embroidered pink dress. It was the perfect setting. I fell to my knee and mumbled the words, “Will you marry me?” She immediately said, “Okay.” My dream came true; She agreed to marry me.

COVID-19 has spoiled our wedding plans, but we have used this time to get to know one another more before the big day. We talk on the phone every morning, I started singing to her, “Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands …. Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands.”

All in all, 2020 was a good year. I’m engaged to the love of my life and I’m working towards big goals. I’m working on being a caring fiancé; I’m writing a new song that I think might be my best rap yet, and I’m working harder than ever to get my own place, so I can live with my beautiful wife and listen to good music.

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