"Yeah. I was born here but that don't mean that I got to necessarily like it. Lot of people was born here in Harlem but that don't mean that they has to like the rats and the roaches and other vermin that run around here scavenging and living offa the good folks that has to reside here. And I ain't intending on just settling in and become a victim of these here streets. As long as I can breathe I'm gonna do whatever I can to pick myself up and make my plight better. I don't care what it takes. But the one thing I do know is God blessed me by giving me this life and even though I may not be as blessed as a whole lot of other people I am still blessed with the gift of life. So it's up to me and nobody else to get up and make something of my life. And I'm gonna do it. After all, the worse thing in life is wasted potential and I sho ain't gonna waste mine. You just watch and see. Mattie Cruz, Age 14"--Page 4 of cover.