Juliana had a strained relationship with her parents, so she made the difficult decision to move out. At 16, she found herself looking for an apartment and a part-time job to support herself.
“I couldn’t live with my parents anymore,” says Juliana. “It was just a very emotionally abusive relationship while I was living there, so I had to leave.”
Education is important to Juliana so she worked hard to try to stay in high school and make it on her own. She went to school all day and then worked until 11:00 in the evening. This demanding schedule left her with little time for homework.
“I left work at 11:00 p.m., came home and slept pretty much just to go to school the next day,” says Juliana. “It was difficult.”
Understandably, this situation was not sustainable and Juliana’s grades suffered. A teacher noticed that Juliana started to fall behind and once she learned why, she referred Juliana to Family Services Windsor Essex (FSWE). FSWE referred Juliana to the United Way-supported Voluntary Trusteeship program, which helps people access supports that improve financial stability in times of personal hardship. Juliana was a bit uncomfortable at first – uncertain of what the trustee would make of her situation. She didn’t want to be seen as an immature kid who couldn’t take care of herself.
“I was kind of leery about it when I walked in, but [the trustee] really made me feel comfortable and understand that it’s not that anyone sees you as immature, it’s just that little bit of extra support that you don’t consciously think you need, but it really does help.”
Trustees help people manage their financial future, set goals, and provide financial education so that they can eventually become self-supporting. Juliana’s trustee helped her enroll in Ontario Works. Her trustee also worked with Juliana to set up a budget and focus on future goals, like getting a car, and saving for school.
“It’s still cheque to cheque, but it’s a heck of a lot better with the trustee program on my side.”
Juliana ended up moving to Windsor from Belle River because of the better job opportunities and the availability of public transportation. Transportation was a significant barrier for her to hold a job when she lived in the county. Living in Windsor also allowed Juliana to transition to the Public Alternative Secondary School (PASS) program, allowing her to finish up her final few credits, with a goal of graduating in December. The PASS program runs on a condensed schedule, which allows students the opportunity to work while completing high school.
“I get my education without having to worry about paying my bills,” says Juliana. “And that’s the thing that’s been most important to me and my family growing up - it’s always been education.”
Juliana’s goal is to graduate high school and then move on to a two-year program at St. Clair College which will lead her to University to study Psychology and Criminology. Her ultimate goal is to be a corrections officer at a women’s penitentiary.
Given everything she has been through, including receiving mental health support through FSWE to help work through her challenges, Julianna is focused on acquiring the skills to help others. She is very grateful for the support that she continues to receive.
The Voluntary Trusteeship program is part of United Way’s Counselling and Supports strategy.
Thanks to our generous donors, last year 529 people participated in the program.
Posted: August 31/2017
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