If you've been connected to the Young Families community for any length of time, chances are,
you've had the chance to connect with Kellie Brown or Louisa He. As this year comes to a close, we wanted to take some time to talk to them about their hearts for young parents and why they got involved with Young Families. Read their Q&A interview below.
How long have you been involved with Young Families for?
Louisa: 4 years, 1.5 of those as an apprentice.
Kellie: Almost 15 years: since 2003.
What made you want to get involved with Young Families?
Louisa: When I got accepted into the Youth Unlimited apprenticeship, I thought my experience working with children and youth would be a good fit for the Young Families program. I realized that this was where I needed to be to become an effective youth worker and better person. During those first few years, my passion for restoring families and my heart to see the flourishing of the city of Surrey grew.
Kellie: I worked for the public school system with kids and witnessed generational cycles of poverty. My role was limited in what I could do. I used to say to myself, “If only I could reach the parents.” When I discovered Youth Unlimited, I knew it was a perfect fit for me. I loved their commitment to youth holistically and the encouragement to dream for your city. It was a place I could discover how to “reach the parents” and empower them to be the best moms and dads possible for their kids.
Why are young parents and young families important to you?
Louisa: I love them deeply. There is a powerful connection that develops when you decide to commit to people. In my journey with Young Families, my heart has grown to love these young parents and families. I want to see them live their lives abundantly and that means with a community that accepts them, in relationships that lift them up and in a space where they can use their passions, values and gifts to give back.
Kellie: I believe social isolation is one of the biggest issues in our culture. “The village” is counter to our value of individualism, which is leaving people lonely and hurting. Creating healthy safe communities for those who feel they are on the margins makes a huge difference. The healthy relationships developed through the YF community are the building blocks for young parents to help break the cycle of poverty. They no longer feel alone.
What kind of change have you seen in the lives of parents and their families since you’ve been a part of Young Families?
Louisa: I see a family, once isolated, surrounded by people who are rooting for them. I see a mom, once suffocating in her anxiety, speak out loud the very demons that shut her up. I see a man, once unsure of how to care for a new baby, fighting to be the best dad he can be.
Kellie: I have watched moms and dads heal from their pasts, empowered to live their dreams, and create hope for their kids lives. It works! We have great programs, but the programs are just a means to deeper intentional community.
What kind of change have you seen in yourself?
Louisa: So much! I have learned how to love when it is hard to love. I have learned about myself and my weaknesses and how to speak about them to others. I have learned that I am privileged to get to live life with and to be trusted by these families. I have learned how to work as a team. I have learned that compassion, forgiveness, grace and love do far more for myself and others than solutions, fixing and efficiency.
Kellie: I have learned so much from the young families. So many of them have inspired me to live with courage and strength despite life circumstances. When I first started this work, I used to focus so much on “helping others and fixing problems”. I have learned over the years to focus on building a trusting relationship first and then we walk through life together....side by side. There is a sense of “we are in this together” now.
What’s the most rewarding thing about the work you do?
Louisa: When people realize their worth, capacity for goodness, and gifts and talents and then coming together with others and accomplishing something together.
Kellie: I love to watch a young mom discover her true identity and worth in God, and empowered to live her life with purpose. I know it’s not only going to make a difference in her life, but in her kids lives too.
What are you most excited about for this cycle of Thrive and the young mom’s participating?
Louisa: I am most excited for this group especially to live out the passions and values they discover during Thrive, to see them recognize their great capacity to give to the community around them and to see them have fun together as their friendships deepen!
Kellie: For the Thrive moms to experience this deep sense of community I have seen grow in past cycles of Thrive. Since 2007, we have had over 50 young moms graduate from Thrive. It’s become our cornerstone program where we see real transformation begin. It often becomes a fresh start for the young moms and the beginning of a new stage of life...one that is filled with hope, strength and love.