To the board of directors of Teen Stop Jeunesse,
I wanted to take the time to share with you my gratitude for the role Teen Stop has played in my family’s life. I had moved from Winnipeg about ten years ago and recently returned for a visit when I crossed paths with Pat. I was overcome with memories and feelings of deep gratitude. I was a single parent raising 6 children. My family was recovering from serious trauma resulting from a severe domestic violent history. I personally was having significant mental health struggles. What was worse, I believe, was lack of family support, extreme poverty and within the community, and then we discovered Teen Stop.
When we moved to St. Vital my older boys had already became involved in the youth justice system. My youngest son was showing signs he was heading that way and was told by one police officer at the age of 9 that he would be coming for him when he was 12. I was desperate in not wanting that to be a prophecy. The social services virtually threw their hands up in the air and even on paper wrote us off as a family. Teen Stop did not. The programs and the staff that ran them showed my children that they believed in them and cared for them. They went way above their call I believe and never gave up on them. My youngest son was there constantly. He learned to cook, learned a work ethic through the rotary leadership program and learned how to problem solve and deal with conflict in a healthy way. He never had a criminal charge laid against him.
Today all of my children are living healthy, productive, prosocial lives. They work hard and they enjoy living. We are all closely connected to each other and value each other. We have broken the domestic violence cycle and have moved out of the poverty trap.
My son was 9 when he started hanging around Teen Stop he is 29 today. Teen Stop has done its job in terms of prevention. For me as a mother I am so grateful for the peace of mind I had during those tough years that I knew where my children were.
Just this year one of my sons paid for his daughter to come all the way from Alberta to a camp in Manitoba because he wanted his daughter to have the same happy memories he did. He would have never had them if it wasn’t for Teen Stop as they arranged for the kids to go to camp and I did not have to worry about how to pay for it as it was funded.
I cannot thank you all enough for the work you’ve done and continue to do. Thank you for being that village for my children.
Mary Ann Drazenovich