Dan’s Legacy is a non-profit organization I’ve been proud to support for the past few years, and they’re making a difference in the lives of young people in our community who are facing the world alone.
They support youth who grew up in the foster care system, and those aging out of government care at 19. Because of significant trauma in their childhoods, they’re dealing with mental health and addictions issues, and things have only gotten worse with COVID.
Anxiety, depression and hospitalization for overdose and suicide attempts have gone up 50%. It’s a tough reality – but Dan’s Legacy’s team of therapists are there for the youth.
I asked the Dan’s team if I could share a “Year in Review” and I was directed to this blog post written by Program Director Tom Littlewood. It says everything you need to know:
Why do we do this?
“Because these kids, with leather and tattoos, pink and green hair and black painted nails, who sneer whenever an adult comes around, are just kids.
Young people who grew up in stable families are ready to engage in the world when they take their first steps at independence, but youth who grew up in foster care have an overwhelming need to distance themselves from society. Why is that?
[…] They go from one serious incident to another and when the foster parents have had enough, the child finds their suitcase packed by the door and the social worker telling them, yet again, that they will need to find another home.
Some youth have had more than fifteen placements before they age out of the system at 19. Some have had over twenty. They stumble out of care at 19 with no further support even though most of the support to date has been traumatic.
After about a year, when they are desperate with anxiety and depression, crippled from the trauma that inflames their mental health issues as repressed memories begin to surface, they reach out and call Dan’s Legacy.
Within days they are referred to our outreach team and given an assessment.
We ask: What do they need right now? Is it housing, food, a phone, a doctor or therapy?
They all need therapy but first they need to have their basic needs met, which is where our strategic partnerships with other community organizations who provide wrap-around services come in to play.
[…] These young people didn’t ask to be born into nineteen years of trauma, pain and confusion. They were not ready at age 19 for complete abandonment by the parent state. Just imagine your own children in that same situation and how they would fare if you then kicked them out at 19. You protected and carefully nurtured your children, gave them every advantage, and still you would be terrified to see them forced out at 19 and not be allowed to help them with the struggles you knew they were about to face.
Many studies show that when youth at risk first ask for help but don’t get it, the chances of becoming homeless and struggling with addiction doubles.
So that’s why we do this.
It’s smart to help when they ask for help.
It’s not only ethical but critical to have the help ready when they ask for it, because if they are put on a waiting list most of these youth won’t make it.
These kids are just kids who have survived abuse and neglect from some incredibly dysfunctional adults. These young people need to be rescued, not punished. They will do fine in life if they get the help they need when they ask for it.
Who else benefits? The community. Because when we intervene with Harm Prevention strategies and divert the youth from homelessness, addiction, gangs, crime, repeat visits to the hospital, overdose and suicide, we lessen the strain on those services and the overwhelming costs involved. And when we break the cycle of pain into another generation, we help the youth become stable, happy and contributing members of the community.
We know it works. That’s why we do it.”
[Read the full blog post here]
You can text DANS to 45678 to send $10 right now and online donations are being accepted here »
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Related: Dan’s Legacy BC and Mental Health Week; Surplus Food to Feed the Homeless, How Dan’s Legacy and Laid-off Chefs Are Helping; Dan’s Legacy Presents Trans Extravaganza