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Meet Our Youth: AB

AB grew up in an abusive home. Soon they resorted to sleeping at friends’ places and sleeping outside. The first time they came to YESS was on a night when it was too cold to sleep outside.

“It was actually a lot better than I expected. I met staff who talked to me about my experiences and made me feel a bit better,” says AB. “They encouraged me to stay in school while I was staying in shelter. It was nice to have this place that I knew was a good option for me.”

YESS staff helped AB find housing and AB is now living in a group home environment where they can learn the basics about living on their own. AB’s most defining experience at YESS was feeling supported to not just feel safe, but also move forward. With their basic needs met in a safe place with good people who care, AB felt empowered to set goals and make plans to accomplish them.

“My goals are to love myself,” says AB. “I have not done a good job at this in my life and the people around me growing up didn’t help with this either, but I’m working on it. It takes such small steps to change how you see yourself.”

AB sees a future in helping people who have been in the same situations AB has experienced. Like many other YESS youth, AB feels they could help others experiencing homelessness because they understand how those people feel. If AB could give someone experiencing homelessness advice now, what would they say?

“I would say hang in there and listen to the people who are saying they want to help you figure out how to help yourself,” says AB. “I would say you can get through this, but you have to focus on staying clean and go to treatment if you need to. And deal with the stuff that happened to you as a kid and talk about it with a therapist or a counsellor and release it all.”

AB has been so strong and committed to their goals. What would they say is their greatest accomplishment?

“Living my life has been an accomplishment. It is so hard sometimes and the fact that I’m still here is a big deal,” says AB. “I don’t know what I’m going to do [when I finish school and get a job] but as I go through each step I feel more confident about the next one.”

We are so proud of AB and all the hard work they’ve put towards their goals and their healing. It is truly inspiring to see AB apply what they’ve learned about self-love and use that as their momentum to move forward.

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Letter from Margo – Spring 2019

Welcome Spring and hello friends of YESS!

You have most likely seen YESS use the #healtogether social media “hashtag” over the last 8 months. We at YESS have been trying to highlight just how important community and healthy connections are to solving the root issues facing the vulnerable youth in our city, but we also want to highlight how important community and connection is for every single one of us. 

When we connect in a healthy, honest, and compassionate way, we all heal… together. Neglect, abuse, addiction, hate, and discrimination are easily grown and passed on if people are isolated and viewed as “others” or “them”.  This is true in business, political, and social communities just as much as it is for vulnerable or marginalized groups. We at YESS have been working very hard to be better collaborators: to be more transparent, honest, and understanding with our partner youth-serving agencies, with our funders, with our community partners, and ourselves. It is hard work to change habits and put down bias, but the effort feels good and we believe the connection is helping and even healing us. We know we are doing the right thing. We know that we can only truly serve and walk alongside our hurt young people together

And, if we may, we ask this of you, our beloved community. Join us in healing together. Join us in having honest, compassionate conversations, and connect with us, with young people, and with each other in meaningful ways. This is the way to make a difference. 

Because, when it all comes down to it, we are all underneath the great beautiful stars in our sky… and we all belong. 

YESS Executive Director Margo Long's signature
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