SDYS Associate Executive Director's Ironman to Benefit SDYS
Our Associate Executive Director Steven Jellá is training for an IRONMAN triathlon to raise awareness and funds for San Diego Youth Services. Steven is completing a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon at Ironman Texas on April 23.
To support Steven, visit sdyouthservices.org/donate.
Doing an Ironman triathlon is a really big commitment, what made you decide to train for one?
I love to exercise and have always been swimming, running and biking, even when I was not training for a race. Doing a triathlon seemed like a natural fit. So, in 2017, I started seriously training for an Ironman, and in 2018 I did my first Ironman in Santa Rosa, Calif.
I started to seriously train as a form of self-care. I love to train and as I took on more responsibilities at work, it was also a way to relax. Training helps me become a better version of myself, so that I can show up for everyone else.
The Ironman I am training for now will take place in Houston, Texas. It will be fun because my parents and brother both live there. My three children will also come with me, and my sister, my other brother and grandma will fly in to cheer me on. We are turning the event into a family reunion and an opportunity to spend quality time together.
How much do you train every day?
I train between one and three hours per day, and about 14 to 17 hours per week. I am pretty much always active, doing something.
You are also doing this race to raise awareness and funds for SDYS. Why do you think other people should support SDYS?
I think our diverse, amazing, dedicated staff members and our comprehensive wraparound services set us apart. We do whatever it takes to give each and every youth that comes through our doors an opportunity to reach their full potential. If we were not here as an agency, a big portion of young people in San Diego would fall through the cracks. We are trying to create better futures and a better community for future generations.
What is your favorite thing about working at SDYS?
I love that we are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of the youth that we serve. Over the years, we have been able to add programs like domestic violence prevention, workforce development and trafficking prevention programs to help more young people. I also have a deep sense that I am part of a team that makes a difference to improve the lives of young people, and that feels really good.
How long have you been with San Diego Youth Services?
I have a long history at San Diego Youth Services. I have actually been an employee for 21 years. I started out as a volunteer in 1999 with our Teen Recovery Center. I loved it, and I was then hired on as a family and youth support counselor.
I then worked as a Community Outreach Assessment Team leader and was promoted to director over all of our east county programs, and in 2008, I became our associate executive director.
While working at SDYS, I got my Master and Doctorate degree in psychology, with a focus on marriage and family therapy.