Born into the foster care system in Chula Vista, California, Ben Serralles grew up fast. After running away from his foster family due to abuse and gang affiliations in the home at only 13 years old, Ben couch surfed through high school, graduated, and put himself through college to graduate with an associates degree and a bachelor's degree in criminal law. He has lived on the streets on and off for 13 years since aging out of foster care. The biggest challenges he faces today are healing his trauma, finding trust, self love, and self esteem, all while working to be free from addiction. Ben’s biggest dreams are to be a dancer and an actor after falling in love with acting in high school.
"Throughout my whole life I’ve always considered myself not a very good-looking person. I was fat growing up. It took so much to get to where I'm at now. I always thought I wasn’t really good looking but looking at these photos, man, you guys put it on the money thank you!"
“The hardest part about being out here is the mental state. You really have to be mentally strong to survive and get past all of these trials.”
Born in Chula Vista, California, 32 year old Ben Serralles lived a unique life from a young age. After running away from his foster family due to abuse and gang affiliations in the home at only 13 years old, Ben couch surfed through high school, where he fell in love with acting. His trauma continued when he lost his closest and only true friend, who died in his arms at 16 years old. Despite the challenges and darkness he faced in his childhood, Ben graduated high school and college, with an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in criminal law.
“There’s a difference between homeless and helpless.”
He's been on the streets since he aged out of foster care at 19 years old, homeless on and off for the past 13 years. He claims to have become accustomed to the freedom of the lifestyle he lives and is often his own biggest obstacle, due to fears that success would change him as a person and challenges with trust and self love from the trauma he has experienced. He is actively working on freeing himself from addiction, going to rehabs on a daily basis for the opportunity to get into treatment, but thus far all the beds have been consistently full. Alongside all of this, Ben is challenged with body dysmorphia and memories of being a “fat kid”, unable to see himself as the beautiful person he is today. Through this project, he has been able to reclaim some of his self love, stating “doing this calendar has built me a lot of confidence”.
Ben grew up without many chances to explore his dreams, and when asked about what his dreams and goals were it took him a moment to remember the possibilities. With enthusiasm, he shared that he would love to explore dance and acting, rekindling some of the passion he had as a teenager. He is the father to three children, a daughter and a son who he hopes to reconnect, as well as an angel son who passed on in 2012. He is in a loving relationship with his girlfriend, and he lives by the quote “better to live fighting for freedom than to live in the daze of slavery”.
“[The calendar's] gonna put a fuckin’ smile on my face I can tell you that… I didn’t do it for the money, I did it for me.”