By age 11, Anthony Arellanes had a criminal record for vandalizing his elementary school. A year later, he was seen tossing a chemical bomb into a bathroom at a Boys and Girls Club.
“I was on a bad path,” Anthony recalls, more than 20 years later.
His path began in South Central Los Angeles where his father was well-known in both criminal and law enforcement circles as one of the biggest heroin dealers in the area.
At 6, Anthony watched police arrest his father inside a local market. His father later died when he attempted to escape from San Quentin by hiding underneath a bus; when the bus hit an obstacle in the road, he fell and was crushed beneath the tires.
Anthony’s mother wanted a better life for him and his older brother, so she bought three bus tickets to Phoenix where she began working long hours as a waitress. Left in the care of a brother only four years older, Anthony eventually landed at that Boys and Girls Club where the director gave him two options: come to work to make restitution for his actions, or be turned over to the police.
He chose to work. At the club, he watched kids who shared his challenges engaged in reading, basketball and drama—a variety of programs funded by United Way. Even after he met his obligation to the club’s director, he continued to show up and participate in activities that redefined his capabilities.
The bad path he had traveled made a sharp turn, taking him in an entirely different direction.
Anthony took the entrance exam for Brophy College Preparatory, scoring the highest in his class and earning a partial scholarship. An anonymous benefactor stepped forward to pay the balance of his expenses which allowed him to participate in afterschool sports. He continued to go to the Boys and Girls Club where he joined the Leadership Club and, as a high school freshman, placed second in the organization’s National Youth of the Year competition.
He was awarded full scholarships to both Stanford and Notre Dame Universities. He chose Notre Dame where he graduated four years later with a degree in finance.
He went on to build a successful financial consulting business and volunteer for United Way, speaking at locations throughout the Valley.
It was at a United Way Tocqueville Society event that a woman approached him and said she had always known he would do well for himself. Suddenly he had a flash of insight.
“You were my sponsor for Brophy,” he said. The two remained friends to the end of her life.