Congratulations to the 2018 Thrive Graudates!

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Back in September of 2017, we eagerly kicked off the 8th cycle of Thrive with a group of courageous women who were ready to make a fresh start.

In the months that followed, we introduced you to young moms like Tiara, Charlene, and MJ, journeying through the program and doing the hard work of breaking down past cycles of trauma and poverty and start to write new stories for their children.

At our last weekly Thrive meeting before graduation in June, we sat around the table discussing what makes Thrive so rare and special. Our Thrive graduates talked about Thrive as a place of community, vulnerability, encouragement, authenticity, growth, depth, intentionality and healing. One of the moms said, “I thought I’d be judged for my past but instead I was loved and accepted.”

These ladies have leaned in and accomplished great things over these 10 months and found a life-giving community. During Thrive Graduation, these young moms were celebrated, surrounded by supportive community, and affirmed as they each shared a piece of their story and how Thrive impacted their journey.

One young mom shared with us: “Since Thrive has ended, I’ve gotten a job as a care aid and enrolled into an adult learning centre where I will work towards my grade 12 starting in September. After graduation, I can apply at university for a registered nurse program, hopefully landing me a great job that makes not only my family proud but myself!”

This is truly a snapshot of the Young Families community and the impact and influence positive relationships have in our lives!

For the more than 15 years, Thrive has been one of the cornerstone programs of Young Families. And for more than 15 years, Thrive has been creating a space for transformation and community for young moms in need.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership of programs like Thrive and for supporting young moms like Tiara, Charlene and MJ as they took on an exciting and life-changing journey.

 

Meet Adonai & his journey as a young father

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We’re so happy you’re part of the Young Families community. We exist because people like you make it possible for young parents to feel connected, welcomed, valued and supported.
 
In celebration of Father’s Day being around the corner, I’d like to share the story of a young father’s heart for his family. Meet Adonai, a young dad navigating the journey fatherhood. Recently when he was asked about his journey, and he shared beautifully about a father’s heart for his children.

“I want to raise my kids up to be good and responsible people and that means I will live to be an example for them," he said. "I want them to know that dad is a good person with a good heart and that I have been there for them."

Young fathers like Adonai are under almost constant pressure to measure up, and many young dads feel that they're not good enough. Young Families is there to encourage young fathers to not just provide financially for their kids but to be present in their lives. Adonai is one of these young fathers committed to raising his children with his partner Gloria. 

This Father’s Day, we’re thankful for dad’s like Adonai who make sacrifices to commit to their families, so their children grow up knowing they’re loved, protected and valued. 

Thank you for all you do to support the Young Families community. Through volunteering, donations, and spiritual support, you are helping young dads become the role models their kids need to build strong, healthy futures for their families all year long. 
 

Mother's Day Message from Kellie Brown

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This Mother’s Day, Young Families Director Kellie Brown shares her reflections on the relationships with moms that have inspired and changed her life.

I’ve been reflecting on the many years of stories I’ve heard from young moms and dads, some of which we asked to courageously share with Young Families supporters like you. Their stories are vulnerable, but filled with strength and resiliency.

I’ll never forget my first event with Young Families (called Stepping Stones at the time) as a new volunteer. It was a movie night at our old Youth Unlimited center. On the outside, I may have looked like a confident experienced youth worker, ready to change the world.  

But the truth was, in my heart, I was scared. Would I be accepted? I felt incredibly insecure that I wasn’t a mom and had nothing to offer or advice to give about being a mom. I questioned why I thought volunteering was a good idea.  

I grew up in middle class suburbia: riding bikes, going to church, two parents and one older sister. My family wasn’t perfect, we had our struggles, but I was well loved and life seemed simple. According to new ACEs research, my score would be a 0 or 1. I never had to worry if I was going to eat, or if there was someone unsafe in my home that could hurt me. Those thoughts never crossed my mind.

I know after years of hearing their stories, my childhood was very different from many of the young parents connected to Young Families.

I remember walking through the door and a friendly young mother, Sharron, warmly welcomed me. She introduced me to the others and stayed close as if she intuitively knew my heart and my fears. Over the evening, I felt a glimpse of hope that I might possibly be accepted within this community. Little did I know that evening was the beginning of a friendship with Sharron, and many other young mothers, that I still hold close to my heart.

After a summer of volunteering, I knew this was a community I wanted to invest in long term. I joined the Youth Unlimited staff team in 2003.

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Kellie & Sharron, 2006

Sharron and I came from two very different childhoods. While I was doing homework with my parents late at night, she was wondering if her mother was safe or on the streets. She has a resilient spirit and strength that I admire. I had the joy and honor to witness one her daughters come into the world. Being in the delivery room with Sharron and other young mothers over the years have been profound experiences in my life.

My faith and understanding of who God is has grown and deepened because of the relationships I’ve formed through Young Families with moms like Sharron. I've recognized that even though our stories are different, our hearts and desire are the same: to be known and loved.

My favourite compliment as the director is when visitors come by our weekly programs and tell me later “they didn’t know who was a volunteer and who was a young parent.”

There is no “helper” and “client” within Young Families. Yes, we have staff and volunteers with specific roles, which are necessary for the sustainability of the program. But the foundation of who we are as a community is a mutuality of giving and receiving in relationship - we’re all in this together for the long haul.

I don’t take this statement lightly when I say the young mothers I have walked with over the past 15 years are my heroes. I have watched moms like Sharron heal from their pasts, empowered to live their dreams, and create hope for their kid's lives.

This Mother’s Day, I want thank you for joining with us to invest long-term in young parents to break cycles of trauma, addiction and poverty. I’m so grateful for your support - whether it’s volunteering, donating, attending our annual gala, or following along online - we couldn’t do what we do without you.

So many of the young families I’ve developed relationships have led me to live with courage and strength despite life circumstances. As an essential part of this community, I hope you've experience some of that courage and strength too.

Gratefully,

Kellie Brown, Program Director

Thank you for helping us raise more than $90,000!

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Thank you for supporting Young Families and attending the Spring Gala on April 13th. You made it a night remember. Together, we raised $91,572! We are blown away by your generosity.

Originally, our fundraising goal on Friday was $50,000. This amount helps to cover operational costs of Young Families weekly programs, weekly diapers and baby supplies for moms in crisis, and transportation to and from programs (which can be a major barrier for some young parents).

Our “dream goal" was to raise $100,000. This amount would mean Young Families can continue to help build resilience in young moms and dads through long-term healthy relationships, as well as offer free counselling to help deal with childhood trauma.

We know the most significant offset of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is genuine, healthy relationships. We’ve seen generational cycles of poverty and trauma broken and ACEs scores decrease because of the Young Families community. 

We’re less than 10% away from hitting our “dream” fundraising goal. If you didn’t get a chance on Friday night, now’s your chance to give! 

Thank you for partnering with us. We are grateful for your support as we work together to help break the cycle of poverty for Young Families!