Kenneth Stable doesn’t know the meaning of “slow down.” He’s getting married next fall and finishing his law degree at the University of Denver in the spring of 2023. Additionally, this Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado has his sights set on public service. For Kenneth, the son of Cuban immigrants, it’s the latest chapter in a life honed by hard work and tenacity.
“Both of my parents came to the U.S. for better opportunities,” says Kenneth. “My father was a political refugee, and my mother’s family faced extreme poverty. But their struggles continued as new immigrants. My father’s reaction to a lack of options led to him spending half of his life in prison. My mother ended up fending for herself from the age of 13 after my grandmother, who had mental health issues from a life of trauma, abandoned her.”
When she had her first child in her late teens, Kenneth’s mother put all her energy into motherhood. “She was very intelligent, and she wanted to go to school but she chose to focus on raising my sister,” Kenneth says. Sadly, one of Kenneth’s siblings died in an accident, sending his mother into a severe depression that she self-medicated with drugs. This put the family into a cycle of fighting to stay housed.
“We were in and out of shelters, motels, empty houses, and properties for sale,” says Kenneth. “We’d find a place, get evicted, and sometimes end up on the downtown streets of Denver. By the age of 15, I had lived in eight states and bounced around to more than 17 public schools. I’d make friends, then experience loss and cry silently every time I had to leave. It seemed normal to me – that’s all I knew.”
That pathway changed for Kenneth when he met Jim Williams at Camp Higher Grounds Youth Challenge, which exposes kids from urban areas to other facets of life by taking them into the mountains. “Jim made me think not only about what I could do with my future, but how I could make it happen,” says Kenneth. “We made a dream map and I put it on the wall, and I focused on it. Jim became a trusted mentor after my camp experience, and I had my best days spending time with him.”
Jim knew how much Kenneth wanted to go to school, so he helped Kenneth enroll in a high school vocational program, which he would attend in the morning before going to a school designed for transitory students in the afternoon. It was not easy. “I’d get up at 4 a.m., take three busses for morning classes, walk two miles to my other school, and get home by 8 p.m. after three more bus rides,” says Kenneth. “There were fights at school every day, and kids brought guns. At the same time, my mother was doing everything she could to keep her job.”
While he could see Kenneth was giving it his all amid these challenges, Jim knew Kenneth needed more stability and opportunities through which to channel his dreams – so he recommended Boys Hope Girls Hope.
That’s when Kenneth’s determination and bravery kicked into its highest gear yet.
“I applied to Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado,” says Kenneth, who moved into the boy’s home and enrolled at Regis Jesuit High School with a scholarship. “I got the message that Boys Hope Girls Hope could help me do great things for my family, and for me.”
On the same morning he said goodbye to his mother, Kenneth started classes at Regis Jesuit. “I was super tired on that first day. Right away, people were friendly and trying to help me find my classes, which, for me, was a weird experience. Then I went to lunch, in a room full of tables with kids who did not look like me. As I tried to find an open spot without many people, someone pops out, ‘Hey, that’s Kenny the new kid. Come sit with me.’ Then another kid says, ‘No, I’m sitting with him!’ What???”
Kenneth flourished in the welcoming surroundings. “I studied all the time to catch up academically and tried to get as much as I could out of the experience,” he says. “I grinded. I worked with tutors and with Jim. I didn’t go home for months. I got into football, track, student government, and the chess club. Whenever Boys Hope Girls Hope supporters would visit our house, I’d get to know them and ask them questions about careers. I soaked up all I could from the positive male role models around me. I made many good friends through Boys Hope Girls Hope and Regis Jesuit.” Added Kenneth,
“Boys Hope Girls Hope provided me with simple necessities like a roof over my head, warmth, food and social-emotional and academic support. They guided me through healing and gave me the support to thrive in a loving and resource-rich environment.”
Kenneth graduated from Regis Jesuit with his family in the crowd and went on to Creighton University. While there, he was student body president and tutored and mentored younger students. He volunteered to help after Hurricane Katrina struck and completed numerous internships in the summer. During breaks, when his mother was again experiencing homelessness, Boys Hope Girls Hope and families from Regis Jesuit stepped up to make sure Kenneth had a place to stay. His house parents and those families were there when Kenneth became the first college graduate in his family, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management information systems in four years.
“That was so awesome to see,” he says. “All of those people were a second family to me.”
After jobs with a tech company and Comcast, Kenneth embarked on a career in finance at Charles Schwab as a Senior Specialist with the Partner Support Group and worked his way up to the number one position. He earned a master’s degree in investment management and financial analysis from Creighton and, through Schwab, volunteered to teach financial literacy to young students. When Boys Hope Girls Hope of Colorado and Regis Jesuit invited him to serve on their boards, he jumped at the chance. “I am committed to giving back to these organizations because they gave me the tools and resources to be the person I wanted to be,” he says. “Being a role model for scholars was so important to me.” Kenneth serves on both boards to this day. In 2020, the Denver Business Journal named Kenneth to their “40 Under 40” class.
Kenneth was enjoying his work at Schwab, helping families build college funds and small business owners work to achieve the American Dream. Then his niece passed away from health problems, and his eyes were opened when he helped his sister through the experience in court.
“In the courtroom, I saw many people who looked like me on the other side of cases,” he says. “I wondered why – it felt terrible. It was the push I needed to pursue law as a full-time student. I want to be a voice not just for those who have means, but also for those who don’t – and I will be able to speak authentically to that.”
While Kenneth is the first to say that politics have always been on his mind, it was a fellow student who had been involved in politics at the state level who encouraged him to pursue a seat opening in his district. He only moved forward with the full support of his fiancée, Adriana, who grew up in one of the same neighborhoods that Kenneth came from and today serves as principal of a high school in southwest Denver that has a 95% Latinx student body.
“I’ve lived in homelessness and around people who are billionaires,” he says, “I have seen the racial divide, and I have faced adversity. But it has never held me back! I know I have seen good and bad people in both worlds, and my experience in both has made it so I can communicate with both sides and everything in between. I want to focus on what unites us. I care about bringing people together and advocating for those who can’t advocate for themselves. I am dedicated to lifting those in my community to better their futures and their paths forward.”
“I have the gift of drive, grit, and service that was taught to me by the amazing people I have crossed paths with along the way – including the people of Boys Hope Girls Hope, who see that all young people deserve access to be the best version of themselves,” Kenneth adds. “I’m proud of who I am, and I’d like to do that for others. I’d like to change a lot of other lives for the better.”