Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) believes everyone deserves a home. YOU's newest project, Joan’s Place, will create hope and opportunity for all youth at risk by providing them with the tools and skills they need to overcome their challenges with addiction, primary and mental health, housing, education, and unemployment, and become part of the community around them. Mackenzie is a youth in London who was able to use YOU’s services to change her life, here is Mackenzie’s story:
Mackenzie has always been driven to succeed. But, as a teen, she realized reaching success wasn’t simply a matter of “setting her mind to it”.
“I struggled with substance abuse and my mental health in my teenage years, and graduated high school pregnant with my daughter,” says Mackenzie. Having her daughter months after graduation, she transitioned abruptly into adulthood and felt unprepared.
Worried about her ability to support her newborn daughter given the high cost of rent, Mackenzie faced a conflict. Without a job, she could not afford childcare, but without childcare she could not get a job. “I always knew that I wanted to do something with my life, but I could not get ahead,” says Mackenzie.
Solution-focused and eager to break the cycle, Mackenzie became involved with YOU’s program, Training for Employment Success. Through the program, she completed field training at the YOU Café. “I had the opportunity to invest in myself, which gives my daughter a better future as well,” she shares.
Working at the Café gave Mackenzie more than just on-the-job training. When her relationship with the father of her daughter became toxic, YOU recognized signs of abuse and distress, and acted quickly.
“YOU supported me, advocated for me and connected me with resources. I was given the courage to remove myself and my daughter from a harmful situation.”
As a single mom balancing college, work, volunteering, friendships, relationships, and self-care, there are many things to get done in a day. YOU gave Mackenzie job skills, an income, and mental health counselling. They advocated about her abilities as a mother and helped her find affordable housing. “YOU gave me strength,” she explains.
Mackenzie and her daughter are healthy, stable, and growing. “YOU helped me find myself, learn to navigate a system that I felt trapped in, and become a strong and confident role model for my daughter. YOU helped me achieve my goals and because of that, my daughter is growing up strong. I am so proud of both of us.”
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