YU’s long-term youth worker Calvin Williams walks with Trevor.

Trevor, 25, is a strong, caring and passionate young man, who is often called upon to share his expertise on how to best support struggling youth in Mission. His compassion and knowledge were forged through deep heartache, but also through the committed care he received from a faithful youth worker.
At an early age, Trevor lost his family, navigated foster care, and experienced deep mental health struggles. “I was ten years old when my mom and grandma couldn’t afford to take care of me,” says Trevor. “I had a happy childhood until I went into foster care.”

“It wasn’t a good environment for me anymore,” Trevor says. “My mother was a drug addict.” Foster care was the only real option for Trevor and his three younger siblings. He vividly remembers “getting ripped out of my mother’s arms,” knowing his life was about to completely change.
For the first few months, Trevor’s mother visited him once a week, but as time passed, the visits lessened. “Eventually, the only way I’d see her was whenever I’d walk the three hours to her

house,” he says regretfully. “I never got to see my siblings when I did go.” Trevor experienced deep pain as his family connections weakened. As his siblings were taken to other homes, there were rarely occasions to reunite.
Sometimes, Trevor was inappropriately housed. For a while he was housed in a run-down camper at the back of his foster care parents’ property. “Foster care was an awful experience,” Trevor says tearfully. “I don’t want it for anybody.”

While most of Trevor’s life was marked by inconsistency, there was one constant: Calvin Williams. Calvin is Youth Unlimited’s Mission Area

Calvin brings Trevor (R) and another youth to an NHL Canucks hockey game prior to the pandemic.

Director, and a MY House youth worker. The two met at a community centre when Trevor was 10, and the connection continued through MY House, a furnished home where homeless youth are welcomed with access to food, showers, clothing, counselling, and life-changing relationships.
“Calvin invited me to his church youth group,” says Trevor. “Not long after we were meeting regularly.” These one-on-one meetings, coupled with the care and attention Calvin offered, were completely new to Trevor, but they became a catalyst for transformation that continues to this day.
“Trevor and I have been meeting for 15 years now,” says Calvin, smiling. By showing up, offering a listening ear, and providing practical support, Calvin has come alongside Trevor, helping him shape the trajectory of his life.

Dealt a challenging hand early on in life, Trevor battled mental health issues in a school system that didn’t know how to support him. When he was 14, Trevor learned he struggled with abandonment issues, PTSD, separation anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

“It scared the hell out of me,” he said. “I realized in that moment that I had a lot wrong with me.” While at the time, there wasn’t much the school could do, Calvin played a crucial role in his mental health journey. Trevor is pleased to see that much has since changed in the education system.

About a year ago, Trevor learned that his mother had given up a baby when she was just 16—Trevor had an older brother!

           “I was just happy that I was meeting more family after losing touch with so many of them,” says Trevor, who was united with Aaron in 2020. “I’m trying to build a family back up; family is everything to me.” He often encourages his siblings to meet together, and has continued with virtual meetups throughout the pandemic.
Not only has Trevor been reunited with his biological siblings, he has also found his other family. Trevor recently learned he is part Metis and started to visit the Friendship Centre in Mission, an Indigenous community centre. His Indigenous friends quickly accepted him. “I started making a lot of native friends,” Trevor says. “To me, they are all my family.”

          The friendship Trevor and Calvin share has been a beautiful journey. “After all of these years, Calvin is the only support worker who has pretty much filled every role of counsellor and friend,” Trevor says admiringly. “But the ultimate role he’s filled is a father, and he still continues to help me out so much.”

Today, Trevor is frequently invited to speak on youth forums. He offers advice to non-profits on how to better support youth who have experienced personal or familial drug abuse.

Trevor helped produce this mural featuring the hope and strength of the young generation in Mission’s community.

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Much of how we mentor at-risk youth involves first equipping ourselves with knowledge and resources, and we hope to bring you the same experience. Iona Snair, Associate Director of Lifeteams’ School of Outreach, and Karen Bott, wrote It’s bursting with useful tools to foster mentoring relationships that are proactive and powerful. Available in print and digital formats, find your copy here:
www.lifeteams.ca/store

 

 

 

Dust off those clubs and golf with purpose. We are pleased to announce Youth Unlimited’s 31st annual golf tournament on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Held at Redwoods Golf Course, golfers can expect a beautiful course, a gourmet meal, and remarkable silent auction items, while raising funds for vulnerable youth. If Covid-19 restrictions don’t lift for June, the date will be September 20. Register your foursome or yourself here:
www.youthunlimited.com/golf

With over 100 missional outreaches to 24 countries across five continents, Sam Rowland’s mission is to bring the hope of Christ through presentations at high schools, colleges, and prisons across the globe. Sam’s newest book, On the Edge of Incredible promises to be a revolutionary reimagining of your life and unique future. Purchase this must read book through:
www.youthunlimited.com/edgeofincredible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a vivid childhood memory where I am sitting on the couch and extending my arms to receive a surprise gift from my parents. I’m sure they explained everything to me in the days leading up to this moment, but it never connected until that morning. The gift I was about to receive would forever expand my limited understanding of what a family is.

In the weeks preceding this moment I never noticed anything different about the way my mom looked, so when I received this gift I felt both extreme joy and confusion. Slowly the gift was lowered into my outstretched arms and for the first time I looked into the eyes of my newborn baby sister.

I didn’t understand adoption at the time, I just accepted that our family was now bigger and I got to be an older brother. A photo capturing this moment is evidence of the pride I felt that day.

As I have developed relationships with many people who were adopted (including my wife Sherri) I have come to understand adoption as a profoundly difficult, painful and beautiful experience. At Youth Unlimited we are privileged to hear these stories and enter into the heartbreak and mess. We don’t always have the answers for the big questions youth have about their situation, but we do know they all deserve love and belonging. Every young person deserves to be part of a family.

At Youth Unlimited, family means having someone to love you unconditionally. Family goes beyond bloodlines, last names or obligations. It is not a passive birthright, but a choice to love and accept someone where they are at. This is how we see our relationship to the Creator. We have all experienced God’s unconditional love and familial embrace, and we can’t help but share this same love with young people and their families. It was Jesus who called us to love God with all our passion and intelligence and to love others as well as we love ourselves (paraphrase of Matthew 22:37).

So we make sure each young person knows they belong,
regardless of what they believe
regardless of what they’ve done
regardless of what’s been done to them

They belong.
They are family.

Thank you for promoting family through your prayer and financial support. You are making it possible for young people like Trevor, featured in this month’s Connections, to experience belonging.

With immense gratitude,

Mark Koop

Executive Director