About Justin Fournier
When meeting Justin you are immediately impressed by his good humor, honesty and willingness to share to his story. Having spent much of his childhood raising himself, Justin has a resiliency and determination that is hard to match, and those characteristics have shaped him into the impressive man he is today.
While growing up, Justin faced constant transition which made things difficult for him socially and academically. He will be the first to tell you that he has struggled to keep his grades where he would like to see them (and to the level at which he is capable of performing), but you can also hear the pride in his voice when he shares that he has made the honor roll twice in a row for the first time. Justin is currently living in Dorchester and will graduate from Fenway High School this spring. In the face of adversity Justin has always strived to be more and do more than he thought possible. Crossroads – among many other organizations – has helped to provide the structure Justin needed to find success and thrive.
For 15 years Justin was all too familiar with the foster care system. He was constantly moving from home to home and school to school, making adjusting and fitting in very hard. He didn’t know what school he would graduate from, what friends he would make or what foster he would stay in. Before Justin joined C5 his mentality was apathetic. He had lost the ability to care because every time he tried and started succeeding, he had to start all over again.
Justin joined the Crossroads C5 Leaders program in eighth grade. His vice principal saw potential in him that he didn’t quite see in himself and she encouraged him to apply. Reading Justin’s C5 application now, it is inspirational to see how much he’s changed and how the hopes he had for himself and the program have come true. When asked why he applied to the program in the first place, he responded, “I feel like C5 will have my back when I need it.” Even then it is easy to see that he was looking for the kind of community and stability that he wasn’t finding in his personal life, and we are proud to have been able to provide him with that. Justin was accepted with a resounding yes, his interviewer noting, “I loved him. He has a positive head on his shoulders.”
Throughout his C5 experience Justin was able to build a community for himself – a community that he could rely on to be there for him and support him. As he puts it, “I learned to be able have a voice and express myself. I went from not having anything to becoming something.”
Ky’ann Horton, a Crossroads counselor, and Justin have built a particularly close relationship. Ky’ann started working at a lot of Justin’s pathway events throughout this past year and a half, and he still remembers when he first met Justin. “He was always so introverted and kept to himself. While all of the other teens were dancing, doing different activities and mingling together, Justin always would separate himself and listen to his music.”
One day Ky’ann noticed this and asked what he was listening to. When Justin responded by simply saying “Tupac,” a bond between the two was created. After earning more of Justin’s trust through conversation, Ky’ann asked why he was always so quiet and seemed disengaged or disinterested, to which Justin responded, “I don’t isolate myself because I don’t like people in my class, it’s just that I like to sit back and listen.” While Ky’ann respected that, he also challenged Justin to become a more assertive leader and pitch his ideas, talking more and interacting on a deeper level with his C5 classmates. A year and a half later, Ky’ann has seen a huge difference. “Now when I see him at pathway events he opens up and is a lot more interactive with his classmates, engages in activities 100% and is there to support and uplift his peers.”
Through the program Justin learned that he has a special sort of resilience to him. It makes him incredibly independent, which sometimes caused him to refrain from asking for help. He learned that there was nothing wrong with asking for help and that people have to ask for help in order to achieve success.
Currently, Justin has taken the love of community service that he’s learned in C5 and applied that to work. He works with Dorchester Bay, spending time in the community educating residents about healthy habits – including cooking, exercising and living a smoke-free lifestyle.
Justin believes in giving people the opportunity to speak their truths, to find comfort in their past and challenge themselves to create a better future for themselves and their community. This September Justin will be enrolling in Fitchburg State University to study psychology.