I stumbled upon the Back Alley at a time in my life when my parents and I did not have the best relationship. I was a young teenager who had completely lost my way in life. I ended up with a bad crowd and did many things that I am not proud of, and shortly after that was when I started to hang out at the Back Alley.
I became very close with many people that worked there, and it was those relationships that changed my view on life. The staff were the voice of reason that I wasnít allowing my parents to be, and they did it in such a way that I didnít see it as an adult telling a child what to do. They were great Ďcounsellorsí or Ďlife coachesí, they encouraged me to make decisions and to think of the long term effect of those decisions. And of this took place while we shot pool, and hung out listening to music or playing fooseball and in a way that I didnít even realize the impact that they had on me.
I remember after my family had lost our house in a fire the staff all got together and bought me clothes, and got donations from their churches to give me money to help replace what I had lost. It really wasnít the money that I received that made the most difference, we had insurance to cover the material things, it was the outpouring of love and genuine concern from everyone. When you find yourself with absolutely nothing material to call your own, it is only then that you realize the truly important things in life you cannot place in your hand.
And at that time in my life The Back Alley was the best thing going for me. I made so many friends, and felt truly part of the group. I had a hard time in school, and didnít have many friends, but I looked so forward to Friday and Saturday nights, and without fail every week those were spent at the Back Alley. Brandon has such a limited amount of things for young teens to do, the Back Alley is somewhere for them to hang out and stay out of trouble. I can assure you it kept me out of a lot of trouble, and helped to change my views on so many things.
As I said I had gotten myself in with a very bad crowd, since then I know of so many who have ended up in jail, or addicted to hardcore drugs. When I look back on my life, as an adult and now a wife and mother of three boys, I can contribute a huge part of my success to the staff at the Back Alley. Without them and their companionship, and of course their cleverly disguised voice of reason in my life, Iím not sure where I would be now. I can only hope that there continues to be a place like this for my children when they are that age, and for all the youth of this city between now and then.
And to all the staff and volunteers involved with Youth For Christ, Iím not sure if Iíve ever properly thanked you for everything you helped me through. And Iím sure Iím not the only one with stories like these. I hope you all know what a great contribution you make to this community. Iíll forever be thankful for the positive influences, and life altering experiences that I gained from you all!