Breaking Away Award of Excellence: Doors of Change
This week’s recipient is not only helping homeless youth get off the streets, but preparing them for a bright future ahead.
It was 15 years ago on a homeless outreach trip that Jeffrey Sitcov decided it was going to be his mission to help San Diego’s homeless youth.
“I would say 90-percent of the youth that I come across don’t want to be homeless. They come from incredibly dysfunctional families (and) their parents are primarily drug addicts, also alcoholics. They don’t want to be homeless” Sitcov said.
So in 2001 Jeffrey founded the program "Doors of Change", also known as photocharity. To date, it’s placed over 1800 homeless youth in long term safe housing and brought in over 2200 youth through their music program in just the last three years. One of those success stories is Justine Bethel.
“I got to build relationships with other youth, so I had friends which was always hard to do out on the streets,” Bethel said.
Justine has been working as an advocate with the program for 12 years. “My heart just kind of overflows with joy that we’re able to help other people and why I stuck with the program. I wanted to see other people succeed."
And she’s a shining example – Justine is now a full time honor student at San Diego City College. She runs her own online jewelry business and is hoping to get her Masters degree one day.
She calls Jeffrey an inspiration and says she can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Breaking Away Award of Excellence.
And thanks to hard work and generous donations, this year Doors of Change was able to open a full-time house for self sufficiency. It’s a two-year housing program that provides employment preparation, job search training and independent living skills, helping more kids get off the streets.