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Same Hustle, Different Perspective

How life changing relationships propelled one youth forward

Caleb Brendon and Susanne Livingston

Caleb never thought he would live past 18, let alone travel, in his 20s, across the Atlantic to Sweden, Finland or Estonia. Europe was a far cry from the streets of San Diego where he had learned, not just to survive, but, in a way, thrive. Indoctrinated at 12 years old, he didn’t really have a choice.

“I always felt like I had to prove myself to people, even though I was probably scared most of the time. I interacted with violence. You couldn’t show weakness in those environments because you would be preyed upon.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

Caleb Brendon and his brother

Growing up, Caleb studied the way people in his neighborhood spoke and dressed, their mannerisms, and their influence. Inherently smart, he could filter this information, recognizing which qualities propelled people forward, and which were better left behind. He studied and he learned, not just for his own survival, but for that of his younger brothers. 

“Everything I did was to protect and provide for them. I don’t know if it was the best approach, but it was what I knew. It’s what was around me – to hustle. But I knew I had to find a healthier hustle, because this was either going to get me dead, in jail, or in the hospital.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

Life changing choices can seem small in the moment. At 17, Caleb chose to redirect the skill and drive that helped him navigate the streets toward finishing high school. As Caleb worked toward his goal, his ability to organize and influence his peers caught the attention of school counselor Dajahn Blevins. 

He told me there’s different terminology between the streets and the business world, but it’s all the same, just applied differently. Your perspective of the world will grow,’ he said. He was a big influence.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

CB Caleb Brendon Just In Time
Sharon Popp, Jay Lebhar, Caleb Rendon, Dean Popp-medium

Another key relationship was to Juvenile Hall attorney Daniel Ibarra. Ibarra was an activist who had worked alongside Cesar Chavez, and it was with Daniel that Caleb traveled to Europe.  

“He showed me there’s more than these four blocks and four streets. Going to Sweden, with all these people talking politics… I was like, ‘Wow. THIS is crazy. THIS is not normal. Why is nobody talking about drugs or fighting?’ I realized how much of my previous behavior was influenced by my neighborhood.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

Caleb Brendon Nathanial Martinez JIT Scholarship

When Caleb transferred to San Diego State University as a Business major, relationships continued to play a critical role on his journey. It was there that he met Simone Hidds-Monroe who introduced him to the JIT community. Caleb has gone on to engage in almost every JIT service and will graduate with his bachelor’s degree in Business Management with an emphasis on Entrepreneurship in December. For him, JIT’s Financial Fitness service has been the most valuable. 

“People say, ‘Open a ROTH. Open a savings account,’ but in the world I come from that’s a scam. In the world I come from, people steal credit cards. It was a little scary to open one up. And even though I had this information from school, it still felt better to have someone walk me through it. Anybody can tell you what you should do, but not many people are going to take the time to walk you through it.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

Caleb red carpet JIT

“I want to meet someone that will genuinely walk me through the steps of opening a legitimate business; someone to tell me if I’m asking the right questions or if I’m “on the right path.” 

Caleb JIT Participant

Caleb is entrepreneurial. He aspires to build his own company in the service sector, and he continues to build relationships to help him achieve his goals. 

20th Anniversary Just In Time

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