I was 18 when I first got involved with the drop-in. My friend referred me—said it was a good place to go. I used the drop-in for 2-3 years before I decided to join the Youth Engagement program. I have been involved in the committees for about three years now. The Youth Engagement program has helped me figure out what I wanted to do in life, it was really hard.

Drugs were always an issue. I was always cautious though because my mom is a recovering addict so I was aware of that background. I knew it needed to stop so I could concentrate on what I wanted to do—focus on the priorities. It took me a few months “before I put a foot in the door”. The YAC (Youth Advisory Committee) has opened my eyes on what I wanted in life as well as having a part-time job. It really helped out—having a part-time job as well as giving back to the community. It’s doing stuff for youth and for your peers like mentorship. You get to work with them at their level.

It’s interesting to watch youth in the YAC have babies and choose not to come back. I don’t understand because I have a baby and I always come even more than once a week just to say hi!

What was your life like before getting involved with the Youth Services Bureau (YSB)? I was a loner, I stayed to myself—it was really hard to make friends with people from high school.  My mom kicked me out and I had to rent out a room because I was too old to apply for YSB long-term housing. When I came downtown I made some friends who helped me find myself and accepted me for who I was. If I went back I wouldn’t change anything!

How was your experience with YSB? The staffs are awesome! They are really nice, easy going and easy to talk to which was great. I’ve never had problems with staff or accessing YSB. I think it’s awesome that they have a food bank—I wish they had it a while ago. They even have stuff for babies, which is even better!

I am getting my own place soon through coop housing; I can’t wait to have a place to call my own. I’m so excited and proud!

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