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Step Up | Sunjay’s Story
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Sunjay’s Story
Sunjay’s Story

Sunjay enrolled with Step Up in April of 2017 after experiencing homelessness for nearly 3 years.  Sunjay is a transgender woman and is representative of the nearly 40% of homeless youth in Hollywood who identify as LGBT.  As a result of her gender identity, Sunjay has dealt with prejudice and harassment which led to struggles with depression, compounding her low self-esteem. In May of 2017, she first met Dr. Jimenez and restarted medication for Depression.  She began meeting regularly with her therapist, Emma Carr, and was able to secure an internship at the LA LGBT Youth Center where she was residing in their temporary shelter.  By August 2017, Sunjay moved into her own apartment at Step Up on Vine in Hollywood.  Step Up on Vine has 32 studio apartments and there is dedicated Life Skills staff on site to provide assistance and support to clients who are transitioning into housing.  Step Up on Vine is also located less than a mile from the Step Up Hollywood staff office, and the Hollywood TAY team is able to provide intensive, field based support.  After being in housing for several months, Sunjay completed her internship and joined a dance troupe where she was so successful she was asked to start a troupe of her own.  She also enrolled in classes at Los Angeles Community College and is attending classes to this day. Sunjay is very motivated to change her life around. She still sees Dr. Jimenez once a month for check-ins.

An Important Message from Step Up

Dear Supporters, Volunteers and Trusted Community Partners,

We wanted to take a moment to let you know Step Up is actively monitoring the COVID-19 status in the communities we work. We are relieved to report that as of this writing, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the Step Up Community. Step Up is taking measures to both protect employees' health and welfare, and to advance its critical mission to serve its most at-risk members. During this time, members will continue to need our support and we expect to continue to provide the exemplary level of support and services we have become known for in our community.

In an abundance of caution, Step Up is taking the following immediate steps to curtail the spread of the virus and to keep its staff, members and volunteers as safe and as healthy as possible during this period of unknown impact:

  • All volunteer activities at all sites are halted for a minimum of two weeks.
  • Managers are empowered to work with staff to curtail activities that may put them or members at risk. This includes the possibility of remote work when feasible, phone or telehealth meetings with members as necessary, avoiding transporting members in personal or company vehicles - the advancement of our mission is paramount;
  • Program staff will be trained on how to utilize company phone apps to effectively communicate with members and each other as necessary;
  • We have asked staff if they or an immediate family member is experiencing flu-like symptoms, to not report to any office location, contact their manager on how to proceed, and seek medical attention immediately.

While many public and private spaces have curtailed operations for the time being, Step Up will remain operational and will continue serving its clients. Again, it is important to note that NO ONE IN THE STEP UP COMMUNITY HAS TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19. Our goal is to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Please contact us by email or phone before coming to one of our locations. Support from our community is especially vital now as operations are re-aligned to adhere to our mission while keeping staff, members and volunteers safe. Please consider making a donation as we work through this difficult time. Your contributions in any amount ensure that Step Up will continue serving our most vulnerable neighbors, who are especially vulnerable during this community health crisis. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.

Stay safe and healthy,
Tod Lipka
President & CEO