Success Stories

Inspiring stories. Life-changing experiences.


Marcus and his family came to our Family Resource Center during the beginning of his 11th grade. He was failing most of his classes and not on track to graduate. Marcus’ family was also facing eviction and struggling to meet basic needs.

Marcus’ father has been incarcerated for most of his life and his mother, with no more than a third-grade education, is a single parent of many children. When asked, Marcus could state no career interests and demonstrated little hope for graduating high school.

The case manager at our Family Resource Center developed goals with Marcus and his family relating to basic needs and education. She helped Marcus’ mom gain money management and self-sufficiency skills by connecting her with Home Start. Marcus’ mom also gained access to community resources for food, clothing and medical needs.

The case manager worked with Marcus to evaluate his progress and explore his short and long-term goals. Marcus began attending school regularly and asking for help in class. He began earning A and B grades, rather than Ds and Fs. She helped Marcus obtain an internship with the East County Career Center Youth Program. Marcus also worked the summer at a local shop, where he fostered his love for music and business. He then landed a paid position at another company.

Marcus now holds a 2.33 GPA and is returning this year for an additional semester to complete his credits and graduate.


Gaby’s high school counselor referred her to Girls Group at the San Diego Youth Services Family Resource Center for additional peer support. As the eight-week group progressed, Gaby shared a history of sexual abuse that she wanted help processing. The family agreed to case management services.

Gaby has been a good student, but had seen her grades slipping. Her mom reported that Gaby has also been experimenting with drugs and staying out all night. Her mother was also concerned that Gaby’s choices for dating partners are not safe options for her. Gaby reported that there was domestic violence in her home when she was younger.

The case manager connected the family with the East County Behavioral Health Clinic and Gaby now receives regular therapy at school. The case manager also worked closely with the mother and daughter to address any concerns that came up. Gaby also utilized the Family Resource Center as a safe place to come when she was feeling upset at school.

When Gaby’s academics took a dip, the case manager contacted the school counselor, therapist, mother and Gaby to explore the root cause.

As Gaby progressed at home and at school, she decided to get more involved with her school. The case manager helped Gaby explore her options including Camp Lead, the Care Club, the Gay Straight Alliance, Friday Night Live and Peer Listeners.

Gaby is now receiving A and B grades in school, will end her therapy sessions soon and is hoping to attend college and pursue Social Work.


Anna, 17, has been involved with our Youth Emergency Shelter program five times during the past three years.

Anna and her family have struggled with homelessness since she was 10 years old, living on the streets of San Diego, in numerous family shelters and “couch surfing” between friends. At one point, Anna was suspected of being involved in sex trafficking.

During her final stay at the shelter, she worked with her case manager and social worker to pursue more permanent solutions and started therapy with our Counseling Cove program. The program provides intensive outpatient behavioral health services and case management.

Anna was awarded her dependency by the court system and is currently living with a foster family. She graduated from high school, has part time employment and plans to begin community college.


Mary entered the San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) transitional housing program as a lonely, traumatized young woman. She was 18.

She had initially sought refuge at our Youth Emergency Shelter before joining Take Wing, one of our transitional housing facilities for youth ages 16-24. She was unemployed and dealing with an ongoing domestic violence issue.

It took some time for her to focus and begin to develop a vision for the future. However, once engaged, she made rapid progress.

She updated her resume and received job readiness skills. This led to her securing several positions as a server in restaurants. During her stay in the program, she saved $13,000 from her work. Her high level of motivation also led her to enroll in community college.

Today, Mary no longer needs services. She has become a well-adjusted young woman with the independent life skills for continued success.  She continues to attend school and maintains an overall straight “A” grade level. She also recently purchased a car with some of her savings.

Her goals for the future are to complete college and secure a job in social services. With the help of our staff, she is working on a transition plan to live independently.


Kim joined our STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success) program after learning she was pregnant. Upon hearing the news, her boyfriend/trafficker left her and threatened to hurt her and the baby if she contacted him again.

STARS provides a safe environment to empower girls ages 12-17 to escape sexual exploitation.

Kim told of being trafficked since the early age of 14. She was raised in the foster care system and moved from group home to foster home during her early teenage years. She was brought into the “life” by a peer who introduced her to her first pimp.

After running away, she stayed at friends’ houses until she was arrested and placed in juvenile hall. Although troubled and alone, Kim excelled in her program while in custody and received an award for her achievement in completing it.

But after being placed in foster care, she was led back into the life at 15 and met her second pimp. By 17, she had three pimps and had been trafficked along the coast of California. It wasn’t until she reached SDYS’ transitional housing program at 19 years old that Kim was referred to STARS.

With our help, she assisted in putting one of her traffickers behind bars for severely beating and exploiting her. She also completed her first semester in college, enrolled in other services and acquired a job.

She attends prenatal appointments and talks openly about her plans for her child. Kim has a bright outlook and with continued support hopes to stay out of the life and break the cycle of abuse, neglect and abandonment for her child.


Tom entered our transitional housing program on his 18th birthday after living at the San Diego Youth Services Emergency Shelter because he was homeless.

He was very introverted, deeply depressed and uncommunicative. He had a criminal background and was estranged from his family. He had also been in psychiatric care. However, he entered the program with a part-time job and a deep desire to deal with his challenges.

With the support of the program and staff, he first focused on his emotional well-being. He started seeing the Take Wing program counselor and attended weekly sessions.

Tom also progressed vocationally, first by being able to secure higher paying job positions. He moved from part time at his original post to full time at another company where he was promoted to a management position with a $30,000 salary. Upon completing probation, his salary increased to $50,000.

He worked closely with his case manager and learned life skills that are so vital to success upon exiting the program. In addition to working full time, he studied for his high school diploma and obtained a driver’s license. He became effective at developing detailed budgets and the discipline to follow them. Through these practices, Tom saved enough money to buy a new motorcycle.

Tom’s emotional growth, vocational and avocational skills grew at an exponential rate. He became so successful that he returned to the greater community before his scheduled program exit date. He secured an apartment, ready to lead a satisfying and productive life.