Justin Time - JFM Scholarship Helps Launch Career

by Stu Slayen | Mar 02, 2018
From childhood, Justin Hoffer could survive in the wilderness with nothing but his wits. He has endured hypothermia in the woods (on purpose, to test himself) and has built a shelter with nothing but twigs. If you’re ever stranded, Hoffer is the guy you want by your side. 

That’s outdoors. Indoors – especially in the classroom – he hasn’t always been able to tap into that same strength and resilience. Until recently.

“Ever since I was a Scout, being outside is what kept me grounded,” says Hoffer, 30, “but my mental health issues made school difficult.”

Hoffer, a West Broadway resident, lives with depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, and sleep issues. For years, medical professionals struggled for solutions.

“I was probably misdiagnosed about a dozen times,” says Hoffer.

In the last two years, Hoffer started to get the right answers, and now takes just one medication, gets some therapy, and feels great. He also got married, became a father, and found his way back into the classroom. He is studying automotives at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, and thriving. He’s ambitious, too, working toward Red Seal Certification – a recognized standard of excellence that will open up more acareer doors.

A $4,000 JFM scholarship in June 2017 helped him put all the pieces together. 

“When I opened the envelope, I cried,” says Hoffer of the scholarship. “That’s way more than I was expecting. It covered most of my tuition and meant I could spend more time focusing on school and family. It came at the right time and made a huge difference.”

For Hoffer, the scholarship was also an important reminder that he is part of a caring community. Hoffer was born in Saskatchewan and moved to Winnipeg as a child. His father was Jewish, but the family was not particularly observant or active in the community.

“Judaism has always fascinated me. I officially converted to Judaism at Etz Chayim in my early 20s, and then I went on Birthright Israel – it was powerful.” he says. “I try not to work on Shabbat and I spend a lot of time studying Jewish history.” 

Hoffer is grateful for the JFM scholarship, happy about the changes in his life, and excited to keep moving his studies forward.

“I won’t forget what my community has done for me,” he says. “One day I will give back so that others with mental health issues can find their way, too.”