Youth Empowerment Society

Family Stories

This is Amanda and Jen’s story

This is a true story, the images and identity are fictitious to protect their privacy

I am Jen and Amanda is my daughter and this is our story. For the most part we had a normal and happy family life until I separated from my husband and that same year my eldest child moved away for University. Amanda was 12 at that time and she was devastated but we supported each other and I thought we were strong together until we suddenly weren’t. At 13 Amanda started showing signs of depression, emotional unsettlement and of course that normal teenage “rebellion”.  She started to disconnect with me and started to blame me for all the despair in her life. She struggled in school academically, athletically and couldn’t find the confidence to fit into the artistic group and so she began to disengage there too, simply finding people and places to just “Hang out”.

Depressed youth on street

Recreational drugs and alcohol started around age 15 which then led to situations involving the police. She would often leave home for several days at a time and was usually found hanging out on the downtown streets.

One night she found safety at the Youth Emergency Shelter and through her experience there I was introduced to the Youth and Family counselling. When I feeling, there was nowhere else to turn for help at times wanted to “give up”, here it was, and free of charge.

Daughter and Mother hugging

I was a recipient of those counselling sessions for 5 years. Here I received emotional support which was comforting because I really felt I had failed Amanda as her Mom. I had to learn and accept a whole new set of parenting skills to support Amanda without enabling, and that is a very fine line sometimes. I also learned that I am a good Mom because I love her and will always be here to support her and it’s ok to have boundries.

Amanda went on, at 16, to Vancouver and ended up engaging in hard street drugs, prostitution and was often homeless. But I am happy to say, now 20, she is free of hard substances and learning basic life skills. And I, her Mom, am still here, supporting her all the way.

“Thank you to Victoria Youth Empowerment Society for supporting me and teaching me the parenting tools I needed to stay strong and stay connected to Amanda. I could have lost her to the streets but I didn’t.”

Services offered by YES include:

youth and family counselling, community outreach, after hours pager access, referrals, assessments, specialized interventions, a missing youth system, assistance with health issues, advocacy, meeting basic needs (shelter, food, clothing, hygiene etc.), emergency crisis response (including emergency/crisis shelter services), community development, life skills training, independent living support/transitional planning, consultation and assistance with issues related to addictions, mental health, employments, housing, education, etc.

‘YES has helped me a lot. The workers have always helped support me while I was living on the streets. If YES wasn’t around, I don’t know where I’d be.’

‘My daughter and I are doing much better because of the help we have received through YES.  I am always trying to spread the word about YES as I think more families should be aware of the great services that they offer.’

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