Finding The Support to rise up:
Stephany’s story

by Rachel Trujillo, JIT STaff

Stephany was only seven when her mother was arrested for gang involvement and selling drugs. “Up to this day, I try to convince myself that she didn’t choose the drugs and alcohol before her kids,” says Stephany. She and her brother and sister lived with her father for a few years before he lost custody due to physical abuse. Physically and emotionally scarred, Stephany entered the foster care system at 12 years old.

Although placed with foster families, she continued to experience verbal abuse and the withholding of basic necessities. The instability and impermanence of bouncing from home to home and often being separated from her siblings also took its toll.

But Stephany is not a victim. She is not damaged. She is a survivor. “I decided to take control of my life. I have built the resilience and perseverance to continue to be successful,” she shared. “I can rise above difficult situations, adapt, and learn.”

When she turned 18, Stephany was suddenly on her own. Determined to not fall into the lifestyle she grew up around, she moved into her first apartment and enrolled in college at San Diego State University as a first-generation college student. At the same time, Stephany connected with Just in Time for Foster Youth and realized, for once, she didn’t have to go through life on her own.

Stephany joined JIT’s College Bound service, where she received a laptop, printer, and school supplies to support her college journey. More importantly, she became part of a community of like-minded transition-age foster youth who are working to break the cycle and succeed. A community that also includes staff, volunteers, and investors who believe in her potential.

“Just in Time provided me with more than financial, emotional, and educational support. Now I have a place that I can call my family,” says Stephany about the community she’s found.

Stephany also engaged in JIT’s My First Home service, where she received the furnishings and home essentials that turned her nearly-empty apartment into her first stable home.

Soon after, she became part of Career Horizons, JIT’s service for female empowerment. There, she created even more supportive relationships and learned to embrace her strengths and power as a woman.

She also participated in Financial Fitness, where she matched $4,500 in savings and learned the financial skills needed to set herself up with a stable financial foundation.

And through the Coach Approach to Mentoring, Stephany found even more support. “I’ve created a stable and healthy relationship with my mentor of two years and we meet on a monthly basis. We foster youth struggle with creating healthy relationships due to the instability we experience most of our lives, but I can say that I’ve found somebody that truly cares about me because of Just in Time.”

In addition, JIT’s Pathways service equipped Stephany with a stellar resume and the skills, resources, and connections she needed to thrive in her professional life.

And thriving is what she is doing! Recently, Stephany embraced her entrepreneurial side and launched a successful online boutique. She’s also just a year away from graduating from SDSU with a major in Communications and minor in Marketing. She’s even the first ever intern in JIT’s marketing department where she’s already helped launch a TikTok account to engage more with our online community. Stephany thanks her Just in Time community for supporting her dreams and aspirations, and for providing the stability that was missing in her life.

“Just in Time has been more than just a service; it has been a place that a lot of us foster youth can finally call a home. A safe space. A place that believes in us, in our futures and success,” she shared. “I am now more grateful than ever, as I know I have the power that I have to change my own reality. Just in Time provides young people like me a fighting chance to live their dreams.”