From Chaos to Connection:
Joseph’s story

by Amy Blum, JIT Contractor

For Joseph, childhood was a series of traumas and challenges. Both parents were alcoholics and drug addicts who were constantly in and out of drug rehabilitation programs, jail, on the brink of divorce and bankrupting. They often neglected Joseph to get high.

His father passed away when Joseph was 10 years old from a massive stroke. Soon after, his mother’s drug addiction spiraled out of control and Joseph was placed in numerous shelter homes, family members’ homes, and foster homes.

After four years, Joseph’s mother finally got her life together enough to regain custody, but soon fell back into old habits. Joseph remembers “I would have to put her to bed and pray that she was going to be okay.” When he was 16, his worst nightmare became reality. His mother died from an overdose. Joseph was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in a new city. Starting over once again was difficult. “I was feeling alone, angry at my mom, and misunderstood because nobody could possibly understand what I was feeling,” says Joseph.

At 18, Joseph had the opportunity to join a program called My Home that provided foster youth in Santa Barbara County their own studio apartments and resources to live independently. “Up until this point in my life I had felt like a victim of my circumstances and now for the first time I felt like I had the power and confidence to steer my life in the direction I wanted to take it,” Joseph recalls. He moved out on his own the day after graduating high school and the following fall became a full-time student at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). After graduating from SBCC with two associate degrees, he transferred to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

After graduating PLNU, Joseph struggled to find jobs that paid better than minimum wage and was drowning in bills. His goal was to apply to physical therapy school but he first needed to work in a physical therapy setting and all these jobs were part-time. So Joseph had to work several part-time jobs just to pay for his basic needs. “I was going to have to live out of my car because I simply could not afford to live in San Diego, and I had no support system or family for guidance,” he shared.

Luckily, a support system was not far away. A volunteer named Scott introduced Joseph to the JIT community. He immediately engaged in Basic Needs, which helped him get out of survival mode by assisting with the funds he needed to pay rent that month. “JIT was the support system that I had been craving and they helped me get back on track quickly,” said Joseph.

He also engaged in Financial Fitness, where his financial advisor taught him about proper money management. ”I was able to save up close to $10,000, implement an emergency fund, begin investing, and learn to create money goals and manage money for my future,” explained Joseph.

JIT also provided Joseph with furniture for his apartment through My First Home, and the College Bound service provided him with a laptop and printer for college. Most recently, JIT has supported his endeavors as a student Doctor of Physical Therapy through the Master Your Dreams Scholarship. With this scholarship Joseph has been able to purchase school supplies, pay rent, and pay school funds.

“Many people tell me that I am a self-made success story, and I will always tell them that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the kindness, generosity, and mentorship of others,” shared Joseph. “I dedicate my success largely in part to JIT and so many others who have guided me along this journey to be where I am today. Thank you for believing in me when I did not believe in myself. I feel like I have the confidence and fortitude to take on whatever life throws at me.”