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Recent graduate moves on after welcoming, supportive stay

SFVRM Juanita

 Juanita struggles to reflect on her childhood. “It was so full of trauma that it’s even hard to talk about as an adult,” she said.

Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Juanita was brought up by a single mother when she was young. But in her later childhood years, she started getting shuffled around. “I didn’t grow up in one household,” she said. “I was raised with many different people.”

Juanita chose to drop out of high school to get her GED— she had already been working to earn money on her own for years. She was in a relationship that got physical, but Juanita walked away. “I left after that one time (of abuse) because growing up I had seen my mom go through that,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to be in a relationship like that. It happened one time and it was over for me.”

 She decided to relocate to California to chase after her dream of attending film school. Juanita left her daughter and her son in Indiana with one of the women who helped raise her, and she set off to try to secure employment and housing for them. Juanita wanted to be settled before her children arrived.

But after a death in Indiana, that timeline was rushed, and Juanita’s kids joined her sooner than she was prepared for. She hadn’t yet found stable housing. She was also in a car accident that took a toll on her finances. Juanita started looking for help and found the Mission.

Juanita said she felt welcomed and comfortable when she first arrived at the shelter, and was happy to learn that the program was faith based. She had a solid prayer life and a close relationship with God as a child, and was raised going to church, so returning to that environment made her feel safe. “The Mission staff really tries to meet the needs of everyone the best way that they can,” said Juanita, who was at the Mission for three months. “They really uphold the value of faith and Christian values.”

Juanita has been a licensed cosmetologist for 17 years and started a business in July 2021. She is also in school and writing a book. While she and her children are settled in their housing now, Juanita has a desire to help others by remaining connected to the Mission.

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