Devoshar, a foster youth from Sacramento, was used to doing what it took to get by. She’d held a string of short-term jobs and taken whatever opportunities came her way, but each time a job ended, she left without a plan for moving forward. When Devoshar heard about Juma, she saw another opportunity for income and applied. She did not realize then that she had taken the most important step toward gaining a support network who would help her set goals and cheer her on as she reached for new opportunities to thrive.
When Devoshar walked into her first day on the job at Juma Sacramento, she was surprised by how warm and welcoming the Juma staff and her peers were. They received her with open arms and genuine excitement. As she settled into her role and began the work of learning new skills, she also worked hard on forming friendships. She began to open up to her new community and found that many of her peers had also been in the foster care system or experienced financial hardships. For the first time, she felt she had found a job where both management and her coworkers really understood her and wanted to see her succeed.
In this supportive environment, Devoshar learned job readiness skills like communication and customer service. “Customer service is key in every single thing you do; paying attention to little details is important. I had to learn to adapt to that.” She also improved her time management skills and forged close relationships with Juma managers. Where previous employers had not been flexible on scheduling to accommodate meetings with her social worker and counselors, Juma staff worked with Devoshar to help her learn to manage her time. Through those trusting relationships, she learned to communicate when she had a problem so that she and her managers could work out solutions together.
Financial Literacy also played a role in Devoshar’s Juma experience, and helped her to take charge of her financial wellbeing. In a one-on-one session with a Financial Mentor, Devoshar realized that her responsibilities, such as school expenses and the phone she needed to communicate with work, had to take precedence over spending and that saving even small amounts could help her to reach her long term goals. “Without Juma, I wouldn’t have $20 in my wallet right now. I was able to realize that there are a lot of responsibilities I have to handle and I learned to save. I used to spend my money like crazy but now I think about those responsibilities first.” Today, she values saving and is mindful of what she spends. Since graduating from the YouthConnect program, Devoshar has begun a new job at an indoor trampoline park where she’s using her skills to maintain her job while she considers school and careers. Thanks to Juma, she is prepared to consider the possibilities and make an informed choice. “My future goals are to learn what I want to do with my life. I feel like I had a lot of training in different things at Juma, and through other programs, and because of that I know how to reach out and ask for help when I need it.” Her advice for new Juma youth and everyone in her life is,“Reach out and grab someone’s hand. A lot of people might have gone through something similar and you never know how much they can help and want to help until you ask.”