Youth Mentors - True Rebels

Our youth mentors at The Dam are an incredible group of people. I am so blessed to be able to work with them every week, they inspire me with their compassion, empathy and living out Mother Teresa's words, "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love." It is a group of true rebels who are motivated by love!

I don't often talk in detail about what we do at The Dam. This morning I was writing an updated thank you letter for donors who support our work at The Dam and I thought I would share the bulk of that letter here.

The examples you read below about our work at The Dam are just from November and December alone and hardly scratch the surface for even that short period of time. This is a community I am so proud to be a part of.

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Our drop-in programs continue to provide a healthy, safe community for youth. One young man, Will, recently shared his disgust with marijuana and other illicit drugs; they were a major factor in the break up of his family. Many youth with stories like Will’s tend to go down the destructive path of drugs and addiction. Will has ‘risk factors’ for destructive behaviour, yet he has made a home at The Dam. Will goes to school every day, doesn’t smoke or do drugs and is making healthy choices in his life. There are many stories like Will’s in our drop-in programs; youth using The Dam as an alternative and writing a different story for themselves than what the ‘risk factors’ dictate.

A young lady, Holly, recently commented to staff, “People don’t tell their life stories enough,” while talking about what drew her to The Dam. Holly recognizes the healing that can occur in a place where we share ourselves with one another in community. When love and compassion meets the stories of our youth, it gives them an opportunity to thrive no matter the circumstances they may have faced or are facing.

Our staff team is full of amazing mentors who genuinely care for the youth in our community. Our young-moms mentors have had a particularly challenging couple of months. Several moms in our community have been in extremely abusive situations and our mentors hear their stories and attempt to help these women make the choices that will mean the best future for themselves and their children. We were able to help one mom escape an abusive situation with a safety plan and the use of a safe centre. The most difficult work though is walking with these moms through the shame and guilt they feel. Most blame themselves for the abuse and it can take a long time before they feel empowered to make steps towards a new life for their family. We have seen many moms take those kind of steps just in the past couple months alone.

One of our staff recalls being with the children of one family that has been torn apart by abuse and manipulation; “It breaks my heart. They have been so affected by all the drama and abuse over the last years. We were together the other day and they seemed so unsure about everything; going anywhere, doing anything. I took turns holding and snuggling them. They were just hanging on to me with their heads in my neck.” Kids clinging on to the one figure of stability in a life that at times is filled with chaos; it breaks our hearts, but that is why we do what we do.

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That's why we do what we do.

Not because we're perfect or don't have pain or troubles of our own. We do it because there are youth, young moms and children who need someone to cling to and a neck to bury their heads in (figuratively or literally). There is a certain strength that is required to be a figure of stability in a life that is at times filled with chaos, especially when our own lives get chaotic from time to time. However, I see people with that strength every day. Many who know they have it and are helping other write new stories for their lives, many others who don't know yet that that strength is available to them. It starts with the very dangerous and very courageous choice to love.

 

(If you want to contribute to the work of The Dam and those who are living their lives motivated by love you can do so online through Canada Helps at this link - http://www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=s63371)

 
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