I ask myself where I would be today without the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. I wouldn’t have the education I have today, a B.A. and a Master’s degree. When I became a mother at a young age, I might not have been able to raise my son. I would have stayed in the unhealthy environment where I lived—with an alcoholic family member.

I might have continued the same unhealthy pattern. I might have taught my son that was the way to live. I would not have been able to help my sister who also needed to live in a healthier environment. It would have stayed in an unhealthy relationship. I would not be employed, a hard-working and trustworthy citizen. I would live in poverty and bad health, psychological as well as physical. I might not have learned to live with post-traumatic stress. My son would have borne the consequences of all of this. He might have left school or even worse. Thanks to YSB, all the unhealthy cycles in my family have been broken. Today, I’m a model for my family.

Sometimes life presents us with enormous and insurmountable challenges. YSB makes it possible to tackle those challenges and get back the feeling that life is good. YSB was a major influence on the path I took, and I feel a lot of gratitude. Today, my former life seems strange to me, as if I had not lived it. But I did, and it’s good to never forget it. If that life feels remote to me now, it’s thanks to YSB. Its many services offered me a new way of living, a better way of living.

This is not only my story but that of my son. He also benefited from YSB’s help. Now let’s imagine 50 years of YSB’s existence, dedication and involvement in the Ottawa community. Thank you to all those who directly and indirectly improved the quality of life of families in Ottawa.

Today, I try whenever I have the opportunity to give back what was given to me by helping young people who are in similar situations. Without YSB, I wouldn’t be able to give back to the community today. Congratulations on 50 years of making a difference.

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