Even Remotely SHORTSTOP & Project SELF Still Changing Lives

SHORTSTOP –a unique juvenile crime diversion program that has served juvenile offenders and their families since 1980 and since 1989 Programa SHORTSTOP has been providing a cultural adaption Spanish language version.

SHORTSTOP Goes Virtual – 16-year-old Anthony was referred to SHORTSTOP by the OC Probation Department for vandalism, gang affiliation and possession of a knife on school grounds. Anthony was in an experimental phase and chose the wrong crowd to hang with leading to his contact with law enforcement. A er an intake assessment with

SHORTSTOP Case Manager Manny Gutierrez, Anthony

did a 180 degree turn. Manny helped him realize that his ac ons not only affected himself but his parents. Anthony was causing his parents to feel hopeless as if they had lost their son to the streets. Fortunately, they had new hope for their son a er their first contact with SHORTSTOP. Anthony and his parents successfully completed a first SHORTSTOP session in March but due to COVID-19 were unable to complete the second session. Manny was able to create an individualized second session of the program via telehealth, so Anthony could successfully complete the program and turn in his successful completion letter to his Probation Officer prior to his deadline.

Manny helped Anthony understand that his referral to SHORTSTOP was a blessing in disguise. It is likely that Anthony would have continued to hang out with gang members and his future would have been completely different but for his encounter with Manny and SHORTSTOP. Anthony is thankful not only for SHORTSTOP that he says changed his life, but also for the support that his family received from Project Youth OCBF during this pandemic. Since March SHORTSTOP staff have provided weekly wellness checks to Anthony and his family and included them in PY OCBF bi-monthly food drives. Each me Anthony’s parents came by to pick up their gift cards, list of updated COVID-19 Resources and generous food boxes, they could not stop smiling and thanking staff. “Providing hope to our families during these times is a great feeling and is a key focus of our agency. It was a pleasure helping Anthony and his family. We are so fortunate our diversion models are so amazing that we were able to easily create virtual models of them to continue our good work.” Manny Gutierrez, SHORTSTOP Case Manager


In a normal year, Project SELF internships for high school students is an opportunity for them to explore careers, network and find mentors but with COVID-19 lockdowns many high school students found their summer internship plans canceled or shortened as companies adapted to working remotely or workplace modifications.

2020 marked Project SELF’s 25th year anniversary having served over 1,000 interns. This 25th year looked very different than the prior 24. As usual we received 120 student applications however unlike past years we were only able to place 10 students because of the complications of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Fortunately, a few firms found a way to take Project SELF students for six weeks. Crowell & Moring LLP, Community Legal Aid SoCal, Latham & Watkins LLP, the Traut Firm and Project Youth OCBF provided summer internship experiences in some fashion; mostly virtually.

Meet Fama, who is currently working remotely with Latham & Watkins, LLP – “Project SELF has been a wonderful experience so far. I have learned to use Microsoft Office effectively and have learned to browse the firm’s webpage. Moreover, I have had exposure to several training meetings for attorneys where I got insight on pro bono work, civil law, and strategies to help clients. As part of the technology department, I am continually being trained to learn new software/updates and help the records department. I assist with filing, alphabetizing, or I complete tasks that are in accordance with the firm. I have also learned not to be afraid to ask questions and to be more confident when speaking to others; this has helped me a lot, considering that all meetings are held through Zoom.”

We are thankful to those firms that were able to offer a virtual or modified internship to our students this year and we look forward to 25 more Project SELF summer internship years.