Cameron’s Story – Rising out of youth homelessness
When we first met Cameron, he was kind of in shock. He and his mom always had a rocky relationship, but he had no idea she was going to make him leave.
When it happened, he didn’t know where to go, so he went to the Peterborough Public Library on Aylmer St. until it closed. He was messaging with a friend when he was there, and they told him about the YES Shelter.
When Cameron first arrived in our Emergency Shelter, he was nervous and overwhelmed and was still trying to process that mom had kicked him out. But he said later that staff in shelter were super kind to him and that made him feel like he was eventually going to be ok.
Without YES, Cameron would have had no safe place to sleep that night.
The whole reason YES exists is so that young people like Cameron don’t find themselves alone and unsupported when their home is no longer an option.
Cameron had a birthday a few weeks after coming to the shelter. This was the first one he had with no family to celebrate with, so he made a point to keep busy that day. What he didn’t realize was that staff had made a cake for him, so when he returned just before curfew there was cake waiting for him in the fridge.
Cameron didn’t expect that and was really touched. Shelter wasn’t an ideal place to be, but at least he felt cared about here.
Soon after, Cameron got a spot in our RISE Youth Housing Program. That means, he moved into a place of his own, where he could keep his own things, and start recovering from his past and working towards goals with the help of a worker.
Making big things happen.
Cameron got on medication to help with his mental health, he started seeing a counsellor, he learned new coping skills for his anger and emotions, learned some crucial life skills, like cooking, cleaning, laundry and hygiene, and was connected to life-saving financial aid through the Ontario Disability Support Program. All of these advancements will help Cameron avoid homelessness in the future.
All the while, Jodi was there. She was his listening ear and a guiding force. Cameron needed this mentorship at this time in his life, and told Jodi that what he appreciated about her the most was that she didn’t get angry at him when he wasn’t meeting his goals. She just kept supporting him.
Now, Cameron’s ready
Recently, three years after first coming to YES, the day came that Cameron found a place of his own that he can afford, and he’s ready to move out of RISE and into housing of his very own.
Jodi said, “I mostly keep thinking about how lucky I am to have been a part of his journey. And to be witnessing Cameron moving into his own stable place that he can be proud of.”
Cameron’s goals right now are to pack for his new place, get all his laundry done before he moves, and get settled there. He told me at lunch last week that he’d like to start saving for a personal computer so that he can edit videos and eventually create his own YouTube channel. And sometime in the future, he’d also like to get a cat.
Jodi will of course keep in touch with Cameron to ensure he’s alright on his own, but she knows that he will be. In RISE, he grew from a teen into an adult; capable of making choices that are right for him.
Call to action
HEY PETERBOROUGH, If just 5% of people in Peterborough City and County gave $10/month to YES, we could provide this help to ALL of the young people currently experiencing homelessness in Peterborough. We could end youth homelessness in our community.