From Gift Baskets to Life Changing Choices

Just in Time for Foster Youth (JIT) is entering its 20th Anniversary Year with a renewed focus on building a responsive, reliable, real community for all youth impacted by foster care from age 18-26 and beyond! Little did the co-founders realize, twenty years ago, that JIT would grow into an organization serving 1,600 young adults in San Diego and building a Community of 100,000 youth nationwide.

It all started in 2002 when child advocacy attorney Jeanette Day recruited First American Title representative Diane Cox and Founding Partner of San Diego Social Venture Partners Louarn Sorkin to create holiday gift baskets for youth who had exited from foster care with little or no family support. Moved by the spirit of these courageous youth who were starting out adulthood in subsidized housing with little or no furniture, this small group of San Diego women led the effort to recruit and organize volunteers to collect and provide furnishings for their bare apartments.

Within a few years, it was apparent that young adults needed much more than apartment furnishings to become confident, capable and connected adults. JIT Board President for five years, Kathryn Vaughn, the Managing Partner of the Law Offices of Vaughn and Vaughn, launched services to empower achievement at college and in the trades. Tony Hsu, Founder/Chief Investment Officer, Alethea Capital Management, LLC, worked with Kathryn to establish nonprofit status and served as JIT’s first Board Treasurer while Jenny Hsu served as JIT’s volunteer accountant.

Additional Founding Members worked tirelessly to grow JIT and to serve thousands of young adults who have overcome great odds and are thriving adults, including Kuity CEO Elizabeth Dreicer, Alan Sorkin, Don Vaughn and the entire Vaughn/Maggiora family, Lynne and Steve Doyle, Terry Satin, Phil Baker, Patricia Benesh, Lisa Foussianes, Don Wells, Nancy Cannon-O’Connell, Joyce Ross, Laurie McGrath, the Livingston Family, Hannelore Strauss, and many others.

This month, we circled back with the five co-founders to hear their thoughts about JIT’s evolution and success.
Tony Hsu: It was hard to imagine Just in Time growing to its current size 20 years ago when we were running things off an Excel spreadsheet and managing donations in the back of minivans.
Louarn Sorkin: When we started Just in Time, I had no idea that our services would become this diversified and truly impactful for our youth.
Jeanette Day: We grew so fast because the need was so great for these kids. It is a huge undertaking to start a nonprofit and get a solid board together to manage it.
Kathryn Vaughn: Over the years, I have attended many JIT students’ college graduations from SDSU to Cuyamaca to USC. Education is something that no one can ever take away from you.
Diane Cox: I look forward to the next twenty years as we empower other cities and states to benefit from our community-based model. Every young person deserves the chance to reach their full potential.

www.jitfosteryouth.org