Jenni and Stephen are living proof that the right support and care can break the cycle of disadvantage. Please give generously today to help more vulnerable and disadvantaged young people break free from their past and reach their full potential.
Before her world unravelled at the age of 14, life had already been hard for Jenni.
Her parents were drug addicts and she grew up surrounded by violence, drugs and alcohol. Jenni never felt safe at home and school wasn’t much better. Being the ‘poor kid’ made her the target of bullies and she struggled to keep up in class.
The day she found her mother’s body, a mere 3 months after her father had died of an overdose, Jenni was left to pick up the pieces. She was 14 with no family and little education or financial support.
Thankfully she wasn’t alone. Jenni turned to Youth Off The Streets for help because we had been there for her many times before. Jenni was a regular at one of our outreach programs: a safe haven for her when things were bad at home.
“It was my escape and I went there a lot. The youth workers made me feel safe when I couldn’t feel safe in my own home.”
Jenni has experienced more tragedy and hardship than many people would experience in a lifetime. But despite her circumstances, she refuses to let her past define her future. Jenni’s strength and resilience is nothing short of inspirational. She is now finishing year 12 and has a part-time job that helps her live independently.
That transformation is truly remarkable and only made possible through the generosity of supporters like you. Through your support, we can continue to deliver vital services like outreach and trauma support to kids like Jenni.
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.
You can make a difference to the lives of kids like Jenni and Stephen. Please make a donation so we can support young people in urgent need of our services – and show them that we do care, and we will never give up.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our young people
**All donations over $2 are tax deductible
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