REgaining a smile: Shontá’s story
by Virgo Villajin, JIT Staff
Shontá was first introduced to Just in Time for Foster Youth in 2006 when she took part in College Bound. In her time as a JIT participant, she was also involved in multiple services, including being in the first ever Career Horizons cohort and engaging in My First Home, Basic Needs, and Financial Fitness. Since then, as an alumnus of JIT’s services, Shontá has dedicated time to volunteering for the organization in various ways to continue sharing the impact of JIT.
Shontá currently works with JIT full-time helping strengthen our alumni community by keeping them engaged and developing new ways for alumni to give back to the growing JIT community. One of Shontá’s life goals is to continually create possibilities for growth and learning for herself and others and find new ways to assist, support, connect, empower, and raise awareness for foster youth.
Outside of Just in Time, Shontá is working on creating an art business that encourages healing through creativity. She has two children: a son and her younger sister, whom she adopted in 2020. Together, they enjoy crafting and creating.
Shontá has persevered and thrived in our community despite being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 19. She has been coping with many of the side effects that come with the autoimmune disease, the medications, and treatments over the past 14 years. As a result, she suffered a great amount of bone density loss and most of the enamel on her teeth has been broken down. Shontá recalled “Late last summer, my front upper and lower teeth started to chip and break off and now it is very painful to eat, and I’m up against a challenge that can’t be overcome with my resources alone.”
Several dentists have collaborated to come up with a dental treatment plan that will rebuild her teeth over a period of one year. They’ve agreed to do the work at a greatly discounted rate, but even after dental insurance reimbursement, the cost will be $43,000. This expense is way beyond the capacity of a young mother who is working and paying for childcare.
In an effort to bridge the gap, Shontá is inviting everyone in the JIT community to an art exhibit where her work will be featured alongside extraordinary local artist Gail Roberts. While contributions are welcome, she feels that people simply showing up to support her and share some encouragements are gifts within themselves. The event will be held on Saturday, October 16 from 6 to 8 PM at the Quint Gallery (7655 Girard Ave., La Jolla). In addition to her art on display, there will be appetizers and wine for guests to enjoy. If you’d like to join, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-705-1705.
Shontá shared “I have been able to obtain $28,000 and still need to raise the remaining $15,000 for the entire treatment plan to be completed. With some more help from my community, I will have the funds to pay for this life-changing opportunity and regain the confidence that I once had when I smiled, without the self-consciousness that I carry daily!”
Our JIT team will be coming out to support her and we hope to see you there as well!
If you’re unable to make it to the event but still want to help Shontá regain her smile, we invite you to donate to her GoFundMe campaign.