SAN DIEGO — Before most young adults move into their first apartment, they go shopping with their parents. But for many of those who grew up in foster care, that's not an option.
In this Zevely Zone, I went to Mission Valley to find out more about a program called Just in Time for Foster Youth.
I was met by a young, smiling young man named Emilio Carranza-Davis. At the age of five, Emilio was placed into foster care because it was no longer safe for him to live with his parents.
"Abuse, drugs things like that," said Emilio, who has three sisters. All four siblings were split up into different homes.
"I went to 15 elementary and middle schools, constantly moving around unsure of what was next," said Emilio.
He is now 21 years old, and before he moves into his first apartment, Just in Time for Foster Youth is offering him a free shopping spree from their donation warehouse.
"Bed, desk, mattress, cleaning supply shower curtains, towels you name it pretty much I got it," said Emilio.
"If I didn't get one for free I wouldn't buy one on my own," said Virgo Villajin, talking about the vacuum cleaner he received from the non-profit organization a few years ago.
Virgo grew up in foster care as well and once needed the same household items.
"My first day I had nothing, I had to steal lawn chairs from the pool to sleep on but one of my friends referred me back to Just in Time and within three days I had a brand new mattress delivered and installed into my apartment," said Virgo who now works for Just in Time.
Virgo is happy to pay it forward to a young man he describes as, "Extremely charismatic, a hard worker, he interned with Just in Time and he really took to any challenge that we gave him," said Virgo.
Emilio will graduate from college this year and pursue a masters and PhD on the way to owning his own business.
"Success is something that I accomplish every single day," said Emilio. He may have bounced around in foster care for years but Emilio always found a way to bounce back.
He now speaks in public as an advocate for foster youth. I asked him to share his message.
"Your fingerprint, eight or nine billion people in the world and you are the only person with that fingerprint now if that doesn't give your fire to do something and make an impact look at your fingerprint you are the only you and you haven't been told that you are loved or needed or uniquely created I am here to tell you that," said Emilio.
Want to help break the cycle of foster care and invest in Just in Time's thriving solution? There are multiple ways you can give.
Just in Time For Foster Youth is always in need of donations. Due to the pandemic, instead of household donations, they are asking for gift cards.
If you'd like to assist, go to jitfosteryouth.org/waystogive