“I’ve never had to question my parents’ love, but I can’t help feel like I wasn’t given the greatest chances to succeed in life.”
Stephen’s mother was a violent alcoholic. When Stephen was very little, he and his sister fled the family home with their father. But a lengthy criminal history made it difficult for his father to provide them with a stable upbringing. There were times when Stephen and his family were homeless and he remembers one time sleeping in someone’s laundry huddled up with his dad and sister to stay warm.
Despite the trauma Stephen experienced as a child, he still loved his mum and dad.
But just as Stephen started to rebuild his relationship with his mother, she passed away suddenly. Stephen, now a teenager, found his world soon spiralling out of control. He started drinking, hanging out late and getting into trouble with the law which ended with Stephen’s arrest. The day he realised how much his actions had upset his family, Stephen knew he had to change.
Stephen enrolled at Dunlea, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program we continue to run to this day. The moment he walked through those doors he knew he was in the right place.
“I felt like I was failing at life. Youth Off The Streets helped me change my life for the better.”
With the support of youth workers and his teachers, Stephen finished his HSC and took part in a number of Youth Off The Streets programs that helped build his strength of character and learn important life lessons in the process. One thing he realised during his time at YOTS was how much he wanted to pay it forward and help others in need.
Stephen was so determined to help other kids who also have had a turbulent start to life that he is now one of our most loved and passionate youth workers. He knows what these kids are going through, because he’s experienced it himself.