The Desire to Learn and Go to College

At the heart of Because Justice Matters is the desire to build relationships—both with the women to whom we minister and with other programs and agencies in San Francisco. Such relationships allow for amazing opportunities.

On a recent flight from St. Louis to San Francisco, BJM staff member Julia settled into her seat and pulled an in-flight magazine from the pocket in front of her. She flipped through the pages, stopping when she found an article that featured the Homeless to Higher Education Foundation. At the mention of the organization, fireworks went off in Julia’s head. Her thoughts immediately turned to Jenny, a young woman she had met at BJM’s nail day ministry last summer.

Jenny is 22, homeless, and enrolled full-time at San Francisco’s City College. With an unshakable persistence and remarkable dedication, Jenny is not your average student. Each morning she gets up at 5:00 am in order to join the throng of homeless women and men who wait in line for a number that might earn them a bed for the night. In order to get that bed, Jenny and the other women must return between 3:30 and 5:00 pm. If Jenny isn’t there when her number is called, she forfeits her bed for the night.


Lack of sleep aside, this wasn’t a problem for Jenny until the semester she had a 3 pm class that ran well into the time that the beds were allotted. By the time Jenny’s class was over, the beds were always gone. When forced to choose between school and a bed for the night, Jenny picked school every time. She found a shelter that allowed women to sit in chairs after the beds had run out, and for three weeks Jenny slept sitting up, while continuing to attend classes.

Jenny waking up at 5 am. Jenny waiting in line. Jenny studying in a shelter. Jenny sleeping in a chair. All of this ran through Julia’s mind as her plane made its way to California. When she was back on the ground she looked up the organization and immediately sent an e-mail.


A reply came the next day. Homeless to Higher Ed is based in Los Angeles, but their co-founders, Jessica Sutherland and Erika Griffin were scheduled to be in the Bay Area the coming weekend. “We have never helped a student this needy,” Jessica told Julia, “But the possibility of helping her stay in school is why we exist.”

BJM functions at the ground level in day-to-day life and relationships with women in San Francisco. Homelessness to Higher Ed offers financial help, mentoring and academic support that BJM can’t offer. Every time BJM can partner it makes both ministries stronger and BJM is able to keep doing what we do best, which is build relationships with women.

That weekend, Julia and Jenny met the Homeless to Higher Ed leaders. The result? A commitment of tangible financial and physical help for Jenny, and, a valuable connection for BJM.

“We gain so much by partnering with others,” Julia said. “Wisdom is knowing we can’t do everything. Together, Homeless to Higher Ed and BJM can help Jenny do more than just stay in school. H2H can offer mentoring and practical help like food cards, books and school supplies. We offer consistent, caring relationships, a community of supportive women, and a place for Jenny to discover, know, and be loved by Father God.”

Tate Callejas