Adelle started coming to the after-school program at the community centre in her neighbourhood in Grade 6. It’s an area where many people live in poverty and like many neighbourhood parents, Adelle’s mother wasn’t around much because she had to work so hard to support six kids.
Adelle knows now she was heading down a bad road, seeking out mischief and trouble in a crowd of kids that wasn’t always the best.
“I didn’t have the best reputation. I always wanted to be silly and make people laugh. That made me make bad choices. But here, there was no judgment. I was able to be my own person.”
That inspired her to do better in school and to show that she could be responsible. She learned about cooking, arts and crafts and music and through achieving her volunteer hours at the centre in Grade 9, she realized how much she loved working with children.
“I was offered a part-time job in Grade 10 and three days a week I would come in after school to run art or literacy programs or help out with homework. In Grade 11, I got a full-time position in the summer camp as a leader and I worked throughout the school year.”
She did so well that she got an art scholarship in her last year of high school to a local school for the arts and even got her work into an exhibition there. She’s now focused on going to college for children and youth studies.
“My mom would say I’ve changed 100 per cent. I’m not hyper and crazy anymore. I make better decisions. I’ve been focused on school and I am the first to graduate on time in my family. It definitely would have been a different scenario without the centre,” said Adelle.
“I have a support system here and now I see changes in kids here just like I have been changed. That inspires me to do more.”
For Sam, who is executive director at the centre, “Adelle is living proof of what the United Way provides our community.”
The support of the United Way allows the centre to offer a wide range of programs and services and at empowering those living in poverty, including parenting and life skills programs, a food pantry and clothing closet, and academic supports, all for free.
“The support of the United Way has made a huge difference in breaking the cycle of poverty and impacting lives from a young age. The success stories come one child at a time and it’s bigger than all of us,” said Sam.
Adelle says the staff at the centre motivate people to “go further and reach higher.”
“They couldn’t do any of that without the United Way. I want to give back now because it’s given so much to me.”