Commissioner, County Board
Joey Fuentes is a success. Words he never believed could be used to describe him. A member of the Fresno Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners, he is committed to his family, his community and staying drug free.
It took Joey Fuentes nearly half of his lifetime to decide that he no longer wanted to be in trouble. Once he made that decision, he’s never turned back.
He was, as Joey describes, “one of those kids who was always in trouble.” The only child in his family of five who rebelled, he did it often and without any logical explanation. His parents provided for the family and his dad worked hard.
As a kid, Joey always thought he knew best, despite time after time, ending up in the old juvenile hall. He yearned for an “adventurous” life. Too often that adventure included drugs, fighting and stealing. It was the drugs that really took him over. Despite having a solid family, he became tied to the gang lifestyle. Those ties began to strangle him. He didn’t recognize that being bound to the gang would cut off his circulation.
Already sporting an attitude, the drug use combined with his gang ‘family,’ perpetuated his downward spiral. He spent most of his teen years in and out of juvenile hall. “It was like I was stuck in a revolving door,” he explained. Round and round he went…in and out and in and out until the judge finally said, “Enough.” The revolving door stopped and when it opened, it opened straight into the CYA.
Gangs were prevalent inside those walls and he sided with one over another. His rebellious attitude increased. While in CYA, he, ‘caught a case’ and graduated to the state prison at Tracy. This was not the graduation his parents ever envisioned when their son was born into this traditional Selma family. From Tracy, he went to Corcoran and from there, his next residence was at the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi. It was there that Joey noticed the common thread woven into the inmate population was that the people he was dealing with, “were older.” In Joey’s mind this prompted the question of, ‘Did he really want to continue this lifestyle and end up like those other inmates?’ Older, seasoned, but still with the same mind set Joey had while spinning in and out of Juvenile Hall’s revolving door years ago. Joey’s answer was the same answer the judge had uttered when he sentenced Joey to the CYA, and that answer was one word, “Enough.” He was 30 years old when he walked out of the prison’s doors and he knew he wasn’t going back. He’d finally had enough. He was ready for change.
As with anything, change didn’t come easy. Many times the best things in life are not easy, but are so worthwhile. Joey credits his wife Norma, with being his partner and coach along this journey to success.
It’s been 20 years since they first got together and they’ve faced serious obstacles. Norma had her own battle with drug abuse but she conquered her battle successfully and served as inspiration to Joey. She is currently a candidate for her master’s degree at Fresno State.
They are parents to five children, two girls and three boys. They take their parenting duties seriously. Joey is near completion of his education to become a counselor, focusing on kids in gangs and changing their lifestyle, just as he has done. Initially hesitant, Joey is an honors student and has maintained his position on the Dean’s List every semester. He is a trainer and mentor to the kids at Fresno’s Main Event boxing, and serves as a Commissioner on the Fresno Housing Authority’s Board.
“My wife and God have put me on the right path. Together I will stay on that path,” emphasized Joey Fuentes.
He feels content and settled, like never before. He is now one of those success stories that others read about.