By Karla Peterson, San Diego Union-Tribune
When Virgo Villajin first checked out Just in Time for Foster Youth’s College Bound services, he figured he would just take the laptop and run.
He figured wrong.
“I really just wanted to get a laptop and a printer,” Villajin said of College Bound, which gives foster youth the supplies and support they need to start college and stay there. “But these people were super excited to be part of my journey, and it was those relationships that got me through some of the biggest challenges I didn’t expect to experience while I was in college.”
That was in 2015. Five years and many mentoring sessions, career-preparation workshops and furniture drop-offs later, Villajin has a bachelor’s degree in biology from San Diego State University and a job with Just in Time for Foster Youth. As the organization’s youth services lead coordinator, he is in charge of helping the newest group of college-bound participants deal with some of the unexpected challenges of college life.
Like how to start college during a global pandemic.
In a non-coronavirus year, the 2020 College Bound participants would be kicking off their journey with a two-day event where they would share their stories, connect with their volunteer coaches, and shop at Walmart for dorm and classroom supplies, including laptops and printers.
Now, the networking and socializing will happen online. The laptops, printers, bedding and other supplies will be picked up at Just in Time’s Mission Valley offices during the newly instituted “Drive-Thru Days,” which will happen in July.
But whether the support comes through a Zoom hangout session or a virtual workshop, or during a quick socially distanced visit to the offices, Just in Time will be there. Wherever “there” happens to be.
“We want our incoming cohort of 75 to feel celebrated, and we want them to know we are excited for them to embark on their journey, and that we will be with them the whole way,” Villajin said. “And we hope they stick around to utilize the other resources and get to know us well”…