Caitlynn found a future at a United Way supported after-school program at YMCA-YWCA. Here she tells her story in her own words.
Have you ever had trouble with kids in your neighbourhood? Something innocent like a knocked over garbage can or mailbox. Maybe a little more scary like having your windows egged. Perhaps a group of teens were acting out and made you feel unsafe. Or stole something. Did you yell at them? Did you call the police?
My name is Caitlynn. I was one of those kids. I was heading down the wrong path. I was stealing. I was doing drugs. I was getting into trouble and I didn’t care. But an after-school program in my neighbourhood helped me turn my life around and care about something other than myself.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t like magic. The first time I went there, I got kicked out because Ken, the program manager, caught me smoking drugs under the back stairwell. Not long after I got caught stealing and the judge told my mom I could work my fines off. She brought me back there.
Ken made me clean toilets, do dusting…stuff like that. I hated it. It sucked. But I had to do it so I kept coming back. And over time I started to realize that they do some pretty cool stuff. There’s a gym. A climbing wall. And all these kids come here every day and have a great time. It looked like so much fun, so I asked Ken if there was any other way I could help. He got me working with some of the younger kids, supervising, making sure they didn’t get into trouble…didn’t get hurt. It was hard, but I liked it. So I kept coming back, even when I didn’t have to anymore.
I was in a really bad place when I first discovered this program. Meeting Ken, and him putting me through all the programs and things, it helped me stay off the streets and doing drugs and become a better person.
That’s what I want to do with my life. I want to go back to school and go into social work. I want to help kids because sometimes they need somebody to be a role model for them and I’d really like to be that. I’d really like to be there for them the way Ken was there for me.
P.S. I’m so proud. I became a United Way donor for the first time this campaign!