Have you ever felt hopeless?
Have you felt as though the weight of your current circumstances or the trauma from the past is too much to bear on your own? Do you ever wish you just had someone to walk alongside you and hold hope for you until you gain the strength to carry it again on your own?
You’re not alone.
We all need someone to journey with us in our deepest pain and to hold hope for us.
This is the role Grace graduate Tiffany Juarez has played for countless individuals over the course of her 13-year career in social work. Now the Founder and CEO of the LLC “Battling Minds,” Juarez’s purposeful and successful career began when two Grace professors held hope for her.
Juarez grew up in Griffith, Indiana, and attended Valparaiso University for two years before transferring to Grace in 2005. Looking back now, she would describe herself as “a little rough around the edges” at the time. She was in the middle of many personal transitions, including a switch in majors, and Juarez was hesitant to ask for the help she needed. But her social work professors at Grace, Dr. Rebecca Coleman and Dr. Carrie Yocum, played an instrumental role in her development.
“I wasn’t a great writer during undergrad,” she says. “I think I had to re-write almost every paper, but Dr. Coleman and Dr. Yocum gave me the opportunity to improve my writing. It empowered me to work through the things I’m not awesome at and believe I can get better.”
Beyond giving second chances on assignments, Coleman and Yocum saw things in Juarez that she was unable to see in herself at the time.
“As a student, Tiffany was flexible, confident, and willing to risk herself in new or unfamiliar situations. She has always had a strong sense of advocacy and an ability to focus her ideas in ways that will have the greatest impact,” said Yocum. “I am not surprised at her accomplishments,” she added.
After graduating from Grace, Juarez moved to San Antonio, Texas, to work for the Department of Family Protective Services. Her role involved working with sex abuse investigations. After a year and a half there, and realizing there were needs for larger changes in the system, she decided to go back to school to get her master’s in social work.
For the next 11 years, Juarez worked in a variety of roles and served a diverse clientele — from working in the adolescent unit at San Antonio State Hospital to providing outpatient therapy for military veterans with a local nonprofit, and from serving with Blue Cross Blue Shield to helping individuals facing homelessness while at the Department of Human Services. While the roles exposed her to prevailing mental health needs, Juarez became fatigued with the systems surrounding those needs.
“Those experiences shaped me into who I am right now,” says Juarez. “But there were so many barriers that were difficult to remove within the system. As a creative, action-oriented person, I had a hard time with that,” she said.
These thoughts led Juarez to dream of starting a business of her own, which she could use as an outlet to apply the knowledge and experience she had gained. She knew that she could either spend her life wondering what it would be like to be an entrepreneur or she could just go for it.
And go for it, she did.
In August of 2020, Juarez opened Battling Minds LLC, a company devoted to empowering humanity through creative, holistic wellness. Battling Minds offers solutions-based therapy for veterans, first responders, and individuals experiencing homelessness — all of which Juarez has worked with previously.
True to Juarez’s out-of-the-box thinking, Battling Minds meets the needs of its clientele through nontraditional forms of therapy. Among these forms are walk and talk therapy, run therapy, and even sports therapy. Battling Minds is gearing up for a Mental Health and Golf Event for veterans and first responders which leads participants through exercises in yoga and mindfulness between the holes.
Her nontraditional methods are largely inspired by her time working with individuals facing homelessness. During that time, she got used to meeting people exactly where they were, be it a street corner at a busy intersection or in the woods. Juarez even created a street therapy curriculum in which she provides training to this day.
“When I worked with individuals experiencing homelessness, I knew they could really impact our communities if they just saw themselves the way I saw them,” said Juarez. “I love helping people identify their strengths and holding hope for them until they are ready to take it on their own. I’ve seen amazing individuals work through really tough situations and create opportunities for themselves that they never had before.”
Regardless of the situation or context, Juarez is ready and willing to hold hope for people — a hope that she says comes from God.
“He has given me so much grace for the different things I’ve been through in my own life. I try to bring that same grace to other people when I work with them,” she says. “God has humbled me a lot to follow Him down this path. I have to trust He will use me in this entrepreneurial role I feel very strongly called to.”
Learn more about a concentration in social services to learn the art of holding hope for those in your community who can’t carry it themselves.