At 33, Julia feels like she’s reached a point in her life where she has more perspective than ever before. “I definitely think that this is one of the years that I got the most clarity ever in my whole entire life. I can kind of look at things from a distance and be able to get a better understanding of them.” While she doesn’t know what next year will bring, or sometimes, even the next day, Julia feels like she “can make it” and she’s ready to handle whatever comes her way.
Julia first met At The Crossroads when she was about 16 and at, what she considers now, to have been “a crossroads point” in her life. At the time, she says, “I felt I was taking on a little bit more on my own, kind of stepping out. I think that the system had been raising me for quite a while and foster care, in and out of my home with my mother and stuff. I had recently been in juvenile hall. Basically kind of going out there and seeing, ‘Can I make it?’”
There are many moments that Julia remembers vividly from the last 17 years. She remembers being offered a job as an organizer and educator with an organization called Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE). They first reached out to her when she was in juvenile hall as a teenager, and when she was about 18, they invited her to work with young women who had gone through what she went through. She remembers loving the work. “It was so awesome and they were paying me to do it. It just made me feel really strong in my life. I got to go to Washington DC at the time and learn a little bit about policies that directly impact us on the streets and how that fits in.”
“There’s this native proverb that says that to heal yourself is to heal seven generations back and seven generations forward. Everything that I want to do I want to be very intentional about what is to come and what has been.”
-Julia, Former ATC Client for 10 years
Even though she loved the job and had just moved into her own apartment, she remembers feeling lonely at times. “I was having this job and I kind of had everything, and just like you talked about everything kind of—people want to think that everything once you got it, you got it, and I didn’t just have it yet. There was a piece of me that was still exploring this new world and then also kind of still having love and respect for this other world too. I took a step back and I went back.”
Julia remembers the Executive Director of SAGE letting her know that they were there for her unconditionally, but that she couldn’t do the job anymore if she was, in Julia’s words, “falling back.” As Julia described it, “I stepped back from the job and went kind of fulltime back into the streets.” Then she lost her apartment. “I remember the moment that they put all my stuff from my apartment out on the street and I remember everybody picking through it because I didn’t have anywhere to put any of this stuff. So this great apartment that I had, I was now kind of living in front of it.”
From where she sits today, Julia sees all of these moments as a part of her life, “They’re part of what has shaped me for today so I can’t be mad at those things. I don’t know if that was just part of my journey or part of my path that maybe there’s a purpose for everything. Who knows why the things happen the way they do.” What she does know is that now, she likes to be very deliberate about her decisions, “Definitely makes me think now when I have my apartment, like, take everything nice and slow, let’s write everything down, let’s understand the paperwork.”
Today, Julia is the Program Director of the Youth Detention and Re-entry Programming at Young Women’s Freedom Center. She says that she has a lot of joy for the work, “I live for every moment that I see a young woman just step into her power and be able to use her voice and to tell us what she’s going to do.” She also loves being a mother to her six-year-old daughter, Guillermina or “Baby G.” “She’s just amazing and I forget sometimes that she’s growing up with a different experience than I had. She just, she’s so happy.”
As Julia looks ahead, she has a lot of goals that she wants to reach before she turns 40. She wants to finish her Associate’s degree and transfer to a university. She also wants to buy a home for her family. She’s very intentional about her goals; for her, it’s about healing, “There’s this native proverb that says that to heal yourself is to heal seven generations back and seven generations forward. Everything that I want to do I want to be very intentional about what is to come and what has been.”
Listen as Julia describes her 40-year plan and what she carries with her from her experience as a client of ATC’s into being a colleague of ATC’s.