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.
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.
Kellie Brown, Program Director