Village of Hope Stories – Nena

“Food is my love language. Seeing our clients eat well and take care of their bodies has been the most fulfilling aspect of doing what I love.”
— Nena

 

“Food is my love language. Seeing our clients eat well and take care of their bodies has been the most fulfilling aspect of doing what I love.”

Nena Ngo may be known for her yummy desserts and breads, but that’s just the beginning. She wants clients at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC) to try all her creations. And when one of them asks to take a list of recipes home, Nena says she knows she’s accomplished something wonderful.
Nena has been the Chef at the Carp campus for two years and her journey to get there was an interesting one. She has a degree in engineering, has lived all over the world and has worked at many restaurants, including one of her own. “I needed a break and wasn’t sure what to do. The pandemic didn’t help,” she remembers. “I didn’t know much about the Centre but have witnessed so much addiction and mental illness in the restaurant industry that I wanted to try and help. That led to a full-time position. It has worked out really well.”
Nena provides meals for the youth in the program as well as staff. She develops meal plans, lessons, sources food and cooks everything from scratch. “The clients are so nice and deserve a chance to love themselves again. I try to get to know each person through food. What makes them comfortable? What provides a good memory? Maybe it’s something their Mom or Dad made for them or something they ate as a child or something they’ve always wanted to try but did not have the resources or the opportunity to do so.”
These culinary discussions also provide an opportunity to talk about science and the many misconceptions about food, fad diets and unhealthy eating habits. “It’s really back to the basics and it’s all about balance and understanding what your body needs to be happy and functional,” says Nena.
Moving to the new Centre is an exciting time and Nena says she can’t wait to work in the kitchen: “The new design and layout will allow me to create and expand the menus and lessons.”
“I live and breathe food,” sums up Nena. “I just want people to see it, eat it and enjoy it!” Definitely a labour of love!

Nena is the Chef at the Carp site. She says she is looking forward to moving into the kitchen at the new centre!

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Adrien

“I’ve learnt so much from DSYTC, I’m a different person than I was 3 months ago. I want to have a good life now because I know I deserve it, I want change.”
— Adrien

 

Adrien’s story: “I’ve learnt so much from DSYTC, I’m a different person than I was 3 months ago. I want to have a good life now because I know I deserve it, I want change.”

My name is Adrien and I’ve been an addict for 5 years. 5 years wasted, 5 years of feeling lost, and hopeless. I’m 18 now and I’m so glad I got the help I needed and took control of my life. I was high 24/7 and getting nothing done. I couldn’t hold a job for over 4 months and quite honestly was only working to feed my addictions. I’ve always known I needed help, just never had the guts to put it into action, but when I needed to switch to dabs I knew, or when it was either get help or be homeless. I’m so glad I did.

I’ve learnt so much from DSYTC, I’m a different person than I was 3 months ago. I want to have a good life now because I know I deserve it, I want change. This program has taught me so many tips and tricks, not just for addiction but for mental health as well. The environment here makes it so easy to learn and to understand what’s needed to battle addiction, from the groups, the pro-socials and being able to express your problems and who you are without judgment. I’ve rediscovered a part of myself that I thought was lost and never coming back. And I’ve worked through so many problems I never wanted to bring to light with my therapist. The staff here are incredible, they’re so involved with helping you succeed and just being there to talk about whatever, whenever. The schedule was difficult to get used to, I didn’t enjoy the early wake-up times at first, but having a rigid schedule makes treatment a lot easier.

DSYTC has also helped me come a lot closer to completing my high school diploma (something I never thought I could do). Thanks to the amazing teacher here, the one-on-one help and learning made it easy to complete 3 credits here plus the 2 you get for staying 3 months.

The person I was before here was lazy and inconsiderate. I did not care what happened to me or where I was going in life, now I do. My mindset has drastically changed for the better along with my confidence and mental health. Moving forward from here is scary but I could not be more ready. I can see a good future now, I have a job lined up and I’m excited to work for once, and to save money. I’m going to be a part of my family again, I’m going to enjoy doing activities again, ones I rediscovered here.

I recommend this program to any youth struggling with addiction to give this place a shot because your success and your future are worth it. The 3 months of discomfort is nothing compared to the bright future ahead of you. You are worth it.

Adrien is a client of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Erin

“When I got here, I knew this was where I was meant to be.”
— Erin

 

Erin’s story: “When I got here, I knew this was where I was meant to be.”

I was at a point where I was looking for help but wasn’t sure where to go. Dave Smith was recommended to me by someone I knew. I didn’t agree to it right away. It was another month or two before Erin Johnston graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in child and youth care – but she never actually went to British Columbia because of the pandemic. All her classes were online from her home near Ottawa. In some ways, her real classroom was at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC) where she completed her internship and never looked back.

“When I got here, I knew this was where I was meant to be,” says Erin. “They welcomed me with open arms – and masks!”

Erin says this work has always been in her wheelhouse. Her parents fostered teenage girls when she was growing up, she spent summers at a camp in New Jersey and she studied social work at Algonquin College.

Now, she is an Addiction Counsellor and the Campus Lead in Carleton Place. “Every day, I see someone who comes in with hesitation or perhaps pressure. This might not be their first choice of where to be. But we see them press into the program and transform their lives, right before our eyes.”

Perhaps the best part of the job is meeting a graduate and talking about the impact of the program: “It’s a solid reminder of why we get up every day and come here,” she says. “Big changes can happen in a short amount of time.”

Erin says she is really excited to move to the new building, with everyone under one roof. “We will be able to share resources and bounce ideas of each other,” she says. “We can look at ways to move forward together.”

Erin is the Campus Lead and an Addictions Counsellor in Carleton Place.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Summer

“It was nice to be around people who understand and are kind of going through the same situation, even though it may not be the exact same problem.”
— Summer

 

Summer’s story: “It was nice to be around people who understand and are kind of going through the same situation, even though it may not be the exact same problem.”

I was at a point where I was looking for help but wasn’t sure where to go. Dave Smith was recommended to me by someone I knew. I didn’t agree to it right away. It was another month or two before I decided to contact them.

It took a while for me to get to the point where I felt like I needed to get help. But my drinking had escalated a lot. It kind of goes back to high school, and it got worse when I started university. Basically, I was just drinking all day and unable to do anything. I somehow managed to get through the semester, but that was with me going home and sobering up. And then I would go back to school and start the process all over again.

Drinking was always sort of an alone activity for me. Like, I would drink with other people, but even when I was first getting into it in high school, it was really me doing it alone, doing it before school, and doing it in situations where a lot of other people weren’t. At first it was just at night, and I kept to that for a few years, but then, by my fourth year of university, it was an all-day thing. I mean, when you get to that point, there’s not a lot you can do other than just keep going and watch things fall apart – or fix the problem.

I was 21 when I finally went to Dave Smith. It had been months of me drinking all day. It’s very tiring, and I just realized I wasn’t going to be able to stop by myself. I had tried different things, and nothing worked. I didn’t know what else to do. There was no way I was going to get through another semester like that, and I just needed to do something, so I tried Dave Smith.

Being at Dave Smith was hard for me at first. I didn’t want to go and be away from home, and have to put my life on hold, but I did want the help. I felt like I had to be there, and I knew I needed to do something. It was an adjustment, for sure, being around a lot of different people in a different place, and just having people around 24/7. After the first week, though, I got used to it, and by the end of my stay I was sad to leave.

It was a good environment, a good experience. The staff were all great, and to have them there supporting me through whatever I was choosing to do was really helpful. Also, the other people there, just getting to talk to them and having them there whenever I wanted or needed, it was great. It’s nice to be around people who understand and are kind of going through the same situation, even though it may not be the exact same problem.

I got out of treatment at the end of May last year. Recently, things have been going well. When I first got out it was a bit rocky. I was starting to try to go back to drinking like I used to, but I was living at home and my parents were more cognizant of what I was doing, which made it difficult. Then, when I went back to school in September, I had a few slips. The difference was that I wasn’t trying to hide it anymore. I would reach out to my Mom or my Assertive Continuing Care (ACC) counselor from Dave Smith. I knew it wasn’t something I wanted for myself anymore. That’s a big change.

Overall, the fall semester went decently well, and I haven’t had anything to drink for over three months now. Also, a lot of things have been happening that I didn’t expect to happen. I’ve been showing myself that I can do things that I didn’t think I could, and that’s been great.

It’s important for people to know that, even if you don’t think anything is going to work, just try. I didn’t think there was hope for me, but Dave Smith helped. I would encourage anyone who is in the same position I was in to just go and see what comes of it. Don’t give up.

Summer is a former client of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Shana

“I think the biggest thing for me is to get my students engaged in their academics, in their life, and in wanting to be a lifelong learner. My overall goal is for my students to embrace their self-worth and have hope about their futures.”
— Shana

 

Shana’s story: “I think the biggest thing for me is to get my students engaged in their academics, in their life, and in wanting to be a lifelong learner. My overall goal is for my students to embrace their self-worth and have hope about their futures.”

As a teacher at the boys’ facility in Carleton Place since 2012. I provide academic support to our clients, primarily for grades nine to 12. I try my best to tailor the curriculum to where they’re at when they arrive. They may be close to graduating and need to finish some credits, or they may be in grade nine and just starting out with compulsory courses. Some guys come in who haven’t been in school for years. In a lot of ways, it’s like a one-room schoolhouse where everyone is working at their own level and towards their own personal goals.

They all come in with different abilities, different interests, and different educational needs. It’s about trying to meet them where they are, understand their goals for when they leave DSYTC, and figure out, sometimes day by day, what will work best for them to be successful. I think the biggest thing for me is to get them engaged in their academics, in their life, and in wanting to be a lifelong learner. My overall goal is for my students to embrace their self-worth, have hope about their futures and to become reconnected with themselves. Finding opportunities to empower my students to expand their knowledge of various post-secondary options and careers that interest them is so important. This helps build their confidence and get them excited for their futures.

When I was in university, I did a placement at a provincial group home school for students with mental health issues. It was a unique placement in a smaller setting, and I walked away from that experience thinking that this was something I’d really like to do one day. The opportunity to work one-on-one with students is so rewarding. While I did start out in a mainstream high school, I also spent 10 years working with students in a day program at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre before I applied to the DSYTC, whose philosophy and approach really appealed to me. Having all these different supports in place and being able to go to school while living in treatment is huge for these kids, so they don’t miss out on their academics.

I think the services DSYTC provides are close to all of us. I think that people should know that the clients here are amazing humans who are working hard to improve their lives. Their effort, courage, and perseverance are admirable. There is so much support here, and the clients are learning strategies – and gaining insights – that they’ll have with them for the rest of their lives. You can’t wave a magic wand and never have any issues arise again as life is unpredictable. But they are learning so many skills that they’re going to take with them that go far beyond the reasons they came here in the first place.

All my students inspire me in different ways. Observing the growth and work they are investing in themselves by taking advantage of the opportunity to catch up academically or work ahead is quite inspiring. Those moments when you see things coming together or when you witness them express excitement about their future endeavors are the best days! It is a privilege I am proud to be a part of.

Shana Kendall is a teacher at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Imran

“Being told I needed to go to treatment was one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.”
— Imran

 

Imran’s story: “Being told I needed to go to treatment was one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.”

Being told I needed to go to treatment was one of the most difficult things to come to terms with. Coming into DSYTC I was very close minded and had no intentions to change my behavior once I got out. The lifestyle I was living at home was not maintainable. I was using substances almost every day and using them at school. This caused my grades to decline which was followed by arguments with my parents. The substance use at school got to a point that my school had to take action and give me an ultimatum: “Either seek treatment or be expelled from school.”

The first few weeks of treatment was probably one of the hardest, I felt very isolated and alone. I was very lucky to have come in with a great group of guys who were very welcoming and accepting. I remember on the first day one of the clients came up to me and introduced himself and shook my hand. I don’t think that client realized how much of an effect that one small act of kindness had on me, that moment I realized that it was going to be okay. After I started to settle into the new environment I began to open up and embrace the treatment programming. Being at DSYTC you can either reject the help and services they have here or take advantage of all the great positives of the program.

The schooling here has helped me significantly, having a great teacher like Shana made all the difference and really motivated me to get things done. With the help from Shana to complete a school credit and gaining two Dave Smith credits I feel prepared to go back to school when I return home. Programming here such as group therapy was a foreign concept to me at first, and I wasn’t open to sharing personal details with people I had just met. As I warmed up to the idea of group therapy, I started to realize that there is good and helpful information being taught. A lot of the skills I learned during group I utilized when dealing with conflict in the house, and when I got to go home for the holidays.

Although sometimes we covered difficult topics that were sometimes uncomfortable to discuss, it almost always triggered insightful and good conversation amongst the clients and staff. The staff members here have been so incredibly helpful and patient with me, I have so much respect for each and every one of them. A lot of the times I felt very different from the guys in here, and don’t share similar interests and hobbies. The staff relieved the feeling of loneliness and isolation and made my stay at Dave Smith a lot easier, and I will always be thankful for their kindness. As crazy as it is to say that I have completed three months of treatment that I dreaded at first, I will for sure take the things that I have learned home with me. The skills I will apply to my life moving forward will be the social skills I learned, how to cope with difficult situations, and refusal skills. Thank you DSYTC.

Imran is a proud graduate of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Sabrina

“Without Dave Smith, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. Jess would be gone. I don’t think she would be alive today.”
— Sabrina

 

Sabrina’s story: “Without Dave Smith, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. Jess would be gone. I don’t think she would be alive today.”

Jess started using drugs at 15. We had moved to another city, where she met a new group of friends who were experimenting. I didn’t even know at first that she was using. She just started losing a lot of weight and acting out, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. I’d go into her room to wake her up in the morning for school and instead of finding her in her bed, I’d find stuffed animals under her covers.

When I finally did find out that she was using hard drugs – some of her friends were concerned about Jess and told me – I didn’t even believe it at first. My daughter? Meth? There’s no way. Finally, I couldn’t deny it any longer.

I tried tough love: I gave her a choice — go to rehab or leave the house. And when I gave her that choice, she left. I had to watch my 15-year-old daughter pack a little bag and walk out my door. I don’t even know how I survived that.

After Jess left, I managed to befriend some of the people in her new circle – people that I never would have wanted to associate with. But I figured if I could get to know them, I’d always have a phone number to call if Jess didn’t answer her phone. That happened a lot. And some of them seemed to sense that Jess didn’t belong where she was. They’d scramble around to try to find her and contact me to tell me where she was, and that she was OK. I’m really blessed that I had that connection.

One of these people—a 26-year-old guy she’d been hanging around with – helped convince Jess to stay at Dave Smith when we finally got her into treatment, and she was threatening to leave. They made a deal that if she stayed, he would also try to get clean, so I drove him to a facility in North Bay 10 hours away. And he stayed clean too. It was just a blessing.

Jess tried three other facilities before we found Dave Smith, and they weren’t a good fit for her. She also wasn’t ready. I figured Dave Smith would be perfect because it’s for youth, and she finally agreed to try it. For the first three weeks, she kept wanting to leave. It was really, really, tough, because I thought I was going to lose my daughter again. I really did. And I blamed myself because all this started after we moved.

By the grace of God, she stayed. And while Jess was at Dave Smith, I felt like I finally had some support. I knew I wasn’t alone. I drove from Waterloo to Ottawa every single weekend because I wanted Jess to know I was there for her. I had to show her that I was invested in this as much as she was – Dave Smith was saving my daughter’s life.

The Centre has had such a positive influence on Jess’s life because I can see that when she does struggle, her first thought is not, ‘oh, let me go get high,’ which it used to be. She has the tools now to cope in more positive ways. She does yoga breathing techniques. She’s studying Buddhism. And she still has her notebooks from Dave Smith that she’ll go through.

Without Dave Smith, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. Jess would be gone. I don’t think she would be alive today. When she was using, her personality completely changed. Friends and family were always so important to Jess but when she was using, she became rude and mean. She was lost and wanted no part of family and friends anymore. It was devastating to watch my beautiful, caring daughter transform into someone I didn’t even recognize.

When Jess went to Dave Smith, she came back to herself. She found her love of school again. Seven years later, she is working and saving money to travel after she’s done university. She has all these goals and plans that she’s fulfilling that she didn’t have before. Dave Smith brought me back my daughter and saved her life – and mine, too. I will be forever grateful to DSYTC!

Sabrina is the proud parent of Jess, an alumnus of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Haley

“Honestly, when I got to the Dave Smith Centre, I felt so much weight fall off of me – it was like the pressures of everything around me were gone.”
— Haley

 

“Honestly, when I got to the Dave Smith Centre, I felt so much weight fall off of me – it was like the pressures of everything around me were gone.”

When I was a teenager, I had been having some issues around a lot of things – my family, my peers. I was also playing competitive basketball at a very high level. The other side of my life, when I wasn’t playing, was getting involved in substance use and other unhealthy behaviours and interactions with people.

I switched schools to try and solve the problem on my own, but ended up just going back to it. I started using multiple substances on a daily basis. In hindsight, after reflecting on it for more than a decade, I think I was feeling a lot of pressure. My brothers were both competitive athletes. One brother went to Med school. My parents were amazing, but in the community I grew up in and in my family, there was definitely a need to achieve and I felt like a bit of an imposter. I didn’t know who I was yet.

I was also curious about things. I grew up in suburbia, but I would often take the bus downtown just to see what was going on. I wanted to branch out. But I ended up going in an unhealthy direction and didn’t have the tools to manage it. I started following my peers and just doing what they were doing. After experimenting with substances, they became a crutch for me. I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was very young, and when I wasn’t intensely playing basketball and I needed to feel calm, substances became a quick and easy fix.

My story is unique because my two best friends and I ended up being referred to Dave Smith around the same time. I ended up telling my parents my substance use was getting out of hand. I think they thought I was just smoking weed, partying and drinking, which was pretty typical at my high school, especially among the sports teams. That’s how we celebrated. It wasn’t really affecting my performance at first, but I don’t know how, physically, I was able to do the things I did. But I’ve had family members who were addicts, and I knew that something needed to change or it was going to end very badly. Using substances didn’t feel right, but it also felt good, so it was a huge back and forth all the time.

When one friend was referred to Dave Smith, my parents decided I should go too. We weren’t allowed to go together, but because my friend went first, I had time to sit with that. Honestly, when I got there, I felt so much weight fall off of me – it was like the pressures of everything around me were gone. I’m not saying it was all butterflies and wonderful, because there were breakdowns, wanting to leave and breaking rules and getting in trouble and stuff like that. But the Centre helped me take down all the walls I had been building up – and then I could start building myself back up into who I wanted to be.

Being at Dave Smith was an amazing experience that taught me so much self-awareness. It made me aware of things about myself that I didn’t know, like what my triggers were. I also learned that it was OK to ask for help and that I didn’t have to handle everything on my own. Dave Smith taught me resiliency and gave me a sense of independence, and with every win in treatment, my self-esteem improved. It also allowed me to be kid again in a safe space.

The staff were also unbelievable. Now that I’m working in the field I look back and I can’t believe they were able to give so much at work when they had their own lives to live too. They also inspired me. Because of my own experience, I had a strong desire to help others, so I completed the Child and Youth Worker program at Algonquin College, and now work in municipal social services.

If I hadn’t had that experience at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre when I was younger, I honestly don’t know where I would be. When I close my eyes and meditate, sometimes one of the pictures I meditate on is a spot in Dave Smith because I remember sitting there and feeling completely at peace when I was a kid. It is so meaningful for me. I am so grateful to Dave Smith, and everyone who works there.

Haley is a graduate of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Sharron

“Dad could be serious at times, but there was a lot of laughter; every day I worked with him was so much fun. The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre is his legacy, and it’s an absolute necessity in the community.”
— Sharron Smith, Dave Smith’s daughter and a DSYTC donor

 

Sharron Smith, Dave Smith’s daughter and a DSYTC donor: “Dad could be serious at times, but there was a lot of laughter; every day I worked with him was so much fun. The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre is his legacy, and it’s an absolute necessity in the community.”

I worked with my dad for 35 years, running the catering business. Dad was involved with a lot of charities, but the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre was his baby. I remember more than 30 years ago when he learned that someone he knew had a son struggling with addiction. My Dad decided he had to do something about it, because that’s who he was.

My Dad was happiest when he was working hard – whether he was running his businesses, flipping hamburgers at a school fundraiser or acting as an auctioneer at a gala. He came from a big family, and my grandparents didn’t have very much. But from the time he was very young, Dad was always wanting to help people whenever he could. Organizing people around a cause, getting charitable initiatives off the ground and moving them forward – that was his passion.

Because I ran the catering business, I worked a lot of the fundraising events where my dad was the auctioneer. He was so happy raising money for the causes, like the DSYTC, that he cared about. He’d be up on stage, smiling from ear to ear, doing his thing. Sometimes the whole crew would stop and watch him in action. It was mesmerizing.

Dad could be serious at times, but there was a lot of laughter; every day I worked with him was so much fun, and I will always remember that. The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre is his legacy, and it’s an absolute necessity in the community. Young people are struggling, and they need a place to go for live-in treatment that allows them to spend time away from unhealthy situations.

The new facility is going to be amazing. Not only will all the staff be together, but there will be so much space available for kids to study, and to participate in healthy activities like basketball. The extra capacity will also mean shorter wait times for young people who need help.

My dad and everyone at DSYTC worked so hard to help get the new Centre off the ground. He’ll be looking down on us the day it opens, and I think he’ll be in tears. We will all be crying tears of joy. All that hard work everyone did and then to finally cut that ribbon – holy smokes. That will be the day of all days.

Sharron Smith is Dave Smith’s daughter and a long-time supporter of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Shelby

“I graduated a year early from high school, went to college at 17 to study medical esthetics, and now I’m about to graduate with a degree in Nursing. I would not have been able to do any of that without the coping skills I learned while I was at Dave Smith.”
— Shelby

 

“I graduated a year early from high school, went to college at 17 to study medical esthetics, and now I’m about to graduate with a degree in Nursing. I would not have been able to do any of that without the coping skills I learned while I was at Dave Smith.”

Growing up, I lived in a pretty bad situation and I had to take care of myself and my little brother too. My parents were on drugs and I guess because of that, they weren’t really paying attention. There were nights where there was a lot of fighting, and we had to leave the house.

When I was in the ninth grade, maybe 14 years old, I started hanging out with a lot of older people. I would go to the smoking section at my old high school, where everyone was 18 or 19 years old, and that was where my downfall started. I started smoking cigarettes and sneaking out. I began to do drugs. One time I did drugs, early on, I had a complete breakdown and I was with a group of people I didn’t know. It was really bad.

After that, I was introduced to MDMA, or “Molly,” and it was the best thing I’d ever experienced so I started to do it a lot more. I would go out of my way to get it. There I was, at 14 years old, busing downtown to pick up drugs and come back. I also had a big alcohol issue. I would bring bottles of wine and a corkscrew with me to school. I always had vodka in water bottle. Nothing I did was enjoyable unless I was high or drunk.

My parents started to notice that I had changed. They put a tracker on my phone. Wouldn’t let me leave the house after dark. I didn’t have any privacy – and that made things worse. I’d sneak out and leave my phone behind. I would do anything.

One night, though, I took some prescription medication that wasn’t mine. I took a huge dose, not realizing, when I didn’t feel anything at first, that it was extended-release drug. I started hallucinating, and I ended up in the hospital in cardiac arrest and having seizures. I almost died. The next day, the doctor provided my parents with information about rehab – and that’s how I landed at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. I didn’t want to go, but I didn’t have a choice since I was under 16.

At 14, I was the youngest person there, and I had a lot of setbacks. I insisted I was going to leave. I wouldn’t go to groups. I wouldn’t go to classes. I just lay in my bed and I didn’t care. But soon, it became quite clear that no one was going to come to get me. It was a rough transition, but eventually I started to get comfortable. I started to go to the groups and try to make friends, and I began enjoying it a bit more.

Unfortunately, during my one home visit, I got plastered and returned hungover. I thought I was ready to go home but I clearly wasn’t. After that, I took the program a lot more seriously. I started to do quite a bit better. It was interesting to me that I could go from hating life and just wanting to get high to wanting to be more successful. It was a big change. I pushed against that change a lot, but I decided I could either make myself miserable or I could try to get better. So, I tried.

The Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre saved my life. It gave me a fresh start. I still struggle with a seizure disorder and neurological issues that resulted from my drug use, but I graduated a year early from high school, went to college at 17 to study medical esthetics, and now I’m about to graduate with a degree in Nursing. Eventually I want to become a Nurse Practitioner. I would not have been able to do any of that without the communication skills, the coping skills, and the patience I learned while I was at Dave Smith. I spent a lot of time trying to understand other people’s perspectives, and that helps a lot – especially as a nurse.

Shelby is a graduate of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Asha

“Everything felt hopeless. It wasn’t until I got to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre that things changed for me.”
— Asha

 

“Everything felt hopeless. It wasn’t until I got to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre that things changed for me.”

When I was 18 years old, I was in a really bad place. I was seeing a substance use counsellor at the Royal Ottawa and they were trying to convince me to go to the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC). But despite being tired of living the way I was, I wasn’t willing to go because I wasn’t ready to change.

I only agreed to go once my Mom, who is still my best friend, insisted. She told me if I didn’t go, I’d have to find somewhere else to live. Despite my initial fear and unwillingness to go, I’m glad I did.

For four months, I had individual and group therapy sessions, learned about coping mechanisms, how to resolve conflict and SMART recovery. I took Zumba classes, went to the gym and participated in many other activities. I also took math and chemistry classes to bring my grades up. I ended up staying an extra month because I didn’t feel ready to leave yet. But once I graduated, I wasn’t alone. Laura Hewitt helped me. She was great. We met once a week and she was always there for me. She even bought me and my family presents at Christmas. I really want to thank her.

I’ve wanted to study science since I was a kid. But when I was in active addiction, I didn’t think it was possible. Everything felt hopeless. It wasn’t until I got to the DSYTC that things changed for me. When I left there, I worked hard to make a new life for myself and my mental and physical health really improved.

Today, life is very different. I have just graduated with a Bachelor of Health Sciences from the University of Ottawa. And I will be applying to medical school next year. I have a job and I volunteer at the children’s hospital and at a long-term care home. It all feels really good even if sometimes a little overwhelming. It has been seven years since my stay at Dave Smith which seems crazy. But now I’m looking forward to and excited for the future.

Asha is an alumnus of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Abigail

“There’s nothing I could possibly do or say that would show the extent of my gratitude. I owe my life to Dave Smith.”
— Abigail

 

“There’s nothing I could possibly do or say that would show the extent of my gratitude. I owe my life to Dave Smith.”

I was in my first year of university in Montreal when I got into trouble. I had moved from my hometown outside of Ottawa to go to McGill, and I guess I got in with the wrong crowd. Coming from a small town and going to a big city is never easy, and so I made friends with people I maybe shouldn’t have. I was really deep into the party scene. I downplayed it to my parents, but they could sense that something was really wrong.

Every time I came home, I was exhausted all the time. I was pale, and I’d lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time. My mom was able to connect the dots pretty quickly. I wouldn’t even admit to myself that I had an issue, but my mom was very worried. She started doing research and found Dave Smith.

After five or six months away, I came home to Ottawa after having quite a big breakdown in Montreal. I realized it was the right move. The person I was with in Montreal had broken up with me because they said they loved me and didn’t want to watch me die. It was tough.

My mom had had gone through the first steps of getting me into the program at Dave Smith but I was reluctant. I was like, ‘You don’t know me. You don’t know what my problems are.’ But I guess I realized that I did have a really big problem, and it was becoming more and more clear that I couldn’t handle it on my own.

On my first day, I was nervous to meet the other girls, and then I was really upset. After a week of being there my parents came to visit and I remember sitting in the room with them, bawling my eyes out, and telling them, ‘I don’t belong here. I need to leave.’

I think that, deep down, I knew it was right for me, but it was hard to say that. I didn’t really want to be there until around the two-month mark, and by then, I never wanted to leave.

There were a lot of group sessions that were really good. One was called Reasons for Quitting. The first couple of times we had it, I was really pissed off, but it became my favourite group. We would go around the room and each person would take a turn giving reasons why we quit and everyone else would rate it on a scale of one to five according to how much resonated with them. That group gave me reasons I didn’t even know I had.

Dave Smith also instilled in us a lot of healthy practices, like mindfulness meditation, healthy eating, healthy patterns, and healthy amounts of exercise. The counselors were phenomenal as well. Looking back, I don’t know what I would have done without some of those people. If the counselors were not as good at their job as they are, I don’t think I would have made it.

I’ve been sober for just over four years now. I started working with the Federal public service in August. Before that I was working for the Ottawa Hospital in the call centre. It was a hard job to do during COVID, but it was good for me because I was able to move out on my own. I live by myself with my two cats, and my parents moved just down the street. I love it. I don’t think anything can make a person as grateful for their parents as I am after what happened with me, and I know not everyone has that kind of family support.

If it were not for Dave Smith, I would be dead or homeless in Montreal. I would have no money, no job and no place to live. There’s nothing I could possibly do or say that would show the extent of my gratitude. I owe my life to Dave Smith.

Abigail is an alumnus of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Shannon

“I love this organization and believe in it. No two days have ever been the same. It’s intense but incredibly rewarding.”
— Shannon

 

“I love this organization and believe in it. No two days have ever been the same. It’s intense but incredibly rewarding.”

When I arrived at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre (DSYTC) back in 2005, I knew I had found ‘my spot’. I got a good feeling right away. Everyone was welcoming, friendly and professional. Over the years, I’ve developed a deep loyalty to the organization. No two days have ever been the same. It’s intense but incredibly rewarding.

I began as a substance use counsellor at DSYTC and then moved into a clinical program coordinator role. Most recently, I have been a Family Therapist, supporting the parents of the youth in our program. Not surprisingly, when a youth is suffering with mental health and addictions challenges, the impact on the family is significant. Parents need support and guidance and they need to look after their own wellness so they can support their youth. It’s the resilience of these parents that inspires me. They would literally walk through fire if it would help their youth. And I am so grateful to help them in any way I can.

I met Dave Smith several times and it was a privilege. When he stopped by, the place lit up. He was one of the warmest, most vibrant and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met – and I loved hearing his ‘Hey-Oh!’ bellows.

I’ve given my heart and soul to this job and have recently made the difficult and emotional decision to move on to pursue another dream, which is going into private practice. I love this organization and believe in it, and will be forever grateful for my time here. I wish only the best for the DSYTC.

When the new Centre opens, I will be there to celebrate the fact that Dave’s Dream – a dream we have all shared – has become a reality. There will be an opportunity to do even more for youth and their families in a more coordinated way. It will bring a real sense of unity in a beautiful new setting.

Shannon is a Family Therapist and worked at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre for 11 years.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Wyatt

“…with staff at Dave Smith, there was no shame in the relapse. It was always a safe place to go and get the help I needed.”
— Wyatt

 

“…with staff at Dave Smith, there was no shame in the relapse. It was always a safe place to go and get the help I needed.”

By the time I was 17 years old, drug use was affecting every part of my life – school, family, everything. I’d sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to get high. I got expelled from school. I got into fights. The only reason I’d get up in the morning was if I had a chance to get high. If not, I’d stay in bed.

Eventually, my Mom gave me an ultimatum: get help or get out. She had done some research and found information on a day program at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. This was before the Centre opened its live-in program.

At the first meeting with my counsellor, Laura Hewitt, I told her I didn’t need help and that I was really only doing it to avoid being kicked out of the house. She saw right through me and knew I needed help. Laura was always there for me. She was assertive, which was what I needed. I’d gotten used to getting my way because of my size and my aggressive nature. She wasn’t intimidated and would just wait me out.

Dave Smith was the place that never gave up on me. I eventually did get kicked out of my house. I got kicked out of residential treatment at Alwood (which eventually merged with the Dave Smith Centre). For a while, I was homeless. I got sober and then relapsed a bunch of times.

But with staff at Dave Smith, there was no shame in the relapse. It was always a safe place to go and get the help I needed. Laura was always my first call back then. She was my voice when I couldn’t be. Without the Dave Smith Centre, I don’t think I’d be here. I’d be dead. Honestly, I’d be dead. They gave me the motivation and the empowerment to change.

My life is on a completely different path now. I got my high school equivalency in 2012 and then went to Algonquin College. I had always been a terrible student, but I graduated from the Child and Youth Care Program with Honours.

I work three jobs, including as an educational assistant with a local school board. I work with students ranging from kindergarten all the way up to grade twelve. These students have Down Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, behavioural issues, history of abuse in the home and other challenges. My focus is to make sure that they are okay in the mind so that they can be okay on the outside too.

I’m enrolled at Carleton University working on a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I’ve never been happier in my life. With a degree, I hope to get hired as a youth addictions counsellor to be a voice for the voiceless.

Wyatt has been sober for 13 years. He’s married with two children and a third on the way.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Brett

“DSYTC gave me hope and taught me how to not only help myself, but help out others enduring similar situations.”
— Brett

 

“DSYTC gave me hope and taught me how to not only help myself, but help out others enduring similar situations.”

As a child, I never thought I’d be one to abuse drugs when I got older. But throughout my childhood, I endured bullying and many traumatic experiences. Being jumped countless times and not having many friends to turn to, I became depressed and anxious at 12 years old. My father had a stroke when I was 9 so I had to grow up fast and care for him ever since. In turn, I started using marijuana and drinking alcohol to ease the pain and stress on my mind when I was 12. Eventually that wasn’t cutting it, so by age 15 I moved onto opiates; stealing them from my parents.

The only good thing I had at the time, my girlfriend, ended up cheating on me and left for someone else after three and a half years. This was my breaking point; I became totally reckless as I didn’t care what happened to me after this. I was more than willing to try any drug that was put in front of me, mixing anything I could get my hands on just to forget.

I could see every aspect of my life start falling apart, gradually losing everything important to me: personal relationships, cars, apartments, clothes, everything I owned. Everything I worked so hard for, gone in the blink of an eye. One night I remember quite clearly, I was with a ‘friend’ and we were planning on robbing the convenience store close to my house. We had everything planned out, but we passed out before we could take action. Thank God we did because once I woke up with a clear mind, I realized how stupid that would have been if I went through with it. After hitting rock bottom with seemingly no way out, I had an epiphany. Knowing that if I didn’t seek help, I was going to end up with one of the three fates of addicts: jails, institutions, or death.

Without the assistance of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, I truly believe I would have passed away by now.

After overdosing many times and seeing good friends pass away in front of my eyes, I always wondered, “Why me?” and “Why am I still alive and they aren’t?” Feeling hopeless and having nowhere else to turn to, a close friend suggested I look into Dave Smith and that it would change my life for the better. After losing over 100 pounds in less than 1 month, hitting rock bottom, going through drug-induced psychosis, and knowing I was on the brink of death, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to give treatment a shot.

It was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I was able to get my mental health looked after properly, including getting back on medication and regularly going to much needed counseling sessions. I have also learned many valuable tools during my stay, including mindfulness, CBT, DBT, physical exercise to stay in shape, and an array of coping techniques that have helped when I was struggling with sobriety.

Besides getting me back on the right track in life, the Centre also helped me get my post-secondary schooling in order. If it wasn’t for DSYTC, I don’t think I would have chosen to major in social work at Carleton University; let alone be one year away from obtaining my Bachelor’s degree. Basically, any significant area of my life that was negatively impacted from my addiction was, in turn, impacted positively by DSYTC.

The Centre helped me realize what true help looked like, and after getting back on track on the road to recovery, I decided that my calling in life was to help other people struggling with mental health and addictions. DSYTC gave me hope and taught me how to not only help myself, but help out others enduring similar situations.

I believe the new centre has the potential to be both beneficial and impactful for people in need of DSYTC’s services because of the boys and girls site uniting as one. For example, a new weekly group could be organized to teach the boys and girls mutual respect as well as the golden rule; to treat others the way they would like to be treated. It will be beneficial for the boys and girls to be able to interact more, just like in the real world.

To me, the 30th anniversary means yet another year of opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Ontario to receive the assistance they truly need and deserve. It is also a testament as to how dedicated and impactful DSYTC is to making a difference in the community.

Even though the beloved Dave Smith has passed away, his legacy will always live on through his organization that saves lives and gives disadvantaged adolescents in Ontario another chance at life.

Brett is a DSYTC alumnus who is now going into his final year at Carleton University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Kadin

“I was 19 when I got to Dave Smith and I enjoyed the program from the very beginning. It was very welcoming, and all the staff are invested in their work. It was a good, positive environment for me to step into.”
— Kadin

 

“I was 19 when I got to Dave Smith and I enjoyed the program from the very beginning. It was very welcoming, and all the staff are invested in their work. It was a good, positive environment for me to step into.”

When I was in high school, around grade 10, I started using. Over the years, it progressed. I was just in a really bad place. I was struggling with my mental health, dealing with depression, anxiety and a pretty severe eating disorder. I was also in the midst of transitioning from female to male. Using was a form of self-medication.

After high school, I decided to take some time off and try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I kind of lost track of where I wanted to be and got into quite a bit of trouble. I landed myself in the hospital quite a few times due to over-intoxication. I was really not doing too well.

I was also getting into a lot of arguments with my parents that were getting more and more aggressive. I was kicked out of the house on a number of occasions. It got to the point where I was getting so intoxicated that I couldn’t function at work, and I couldn’t live a normal life. One night, I got into an argument with my parents that got physical and a bunch of property was damaged. I ended up getting sent to the hospital. When I woke up there the next morning, I started to think, “What am I doing to myself? Is this really worth it?”

From there, I ended up going to detox and stayed for about a month. The withdrawal was not pleasant. While there, I sent out a bunch of applications to different treatment centres, and Dave Smith was the first place I heard back from.

I was 19 when I got there and I enjoyed the program from the very beginning. It was very welcoming. All the staff are very invested in their work. It was a good, positive environment for me to step into. It was a bit anxiety provoking at first because I wasn’t sure what my goals were, but I felt very at home there from day one. There’s a lot to be said for Dave Smith being a youth-focused program. That really helped. When I was in detox I was with people who were up to 60 years old, and it’s kind of hard to relate to them.

Live-in treatment at Dave Smith was a good option for me because it limits your access to all the temptations that are out there. The staff at Dave Smith helped me stay away from that stuff for longer so I could process what I needed to process and get my head in the right space so I could move forward. It gave me a foundation so that when I got home, I could cope with the things that triggered me. Pretty much every group at Dave Smith helped me. So did the skills I learned in therapy. And all the pro-social activities we did – like going out for hikes and shooting basketball – helped me start associating having fun with things that don’t involve getting high.

All of us at Dave Smith were also very fortunate to be able to connect with Dr. Robert Milin, the consulting psychiatrist, as a lot of programs don’t offer psychiatric services. He is an expert when it comes to helping young people with addictions and mental health, and he really helped me feel better by assisting me in finding the medications that were right for me and my needs.

My parents also really benefited from the support they got from Shannon, the Family Therapist. They grew up in a generation where therapy was not normal for them, but from the first month, I noticed positive changes in the way they were talking to me. Before I went to treatment, they had a hard time addressing me as male as opposed to female and coming to terms with my transition. Things changed once they started talking to Shannon. They both did some pretty hard work, and I think me being away from home also gave them some breathing space to figure things out.

I’ve been clean now for almost 11 months. I’m doing a lot of pro-social activities like playing sports and going to the gym, while also eating healthy to fuel my body properly. I’m taking online courses now to become a certified personal trainer, and once I’m ready, I’ll go back to work. I’m also taking music lessons (I play guitar and piano).

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about my time in treatment in some way, shape or form, because I really did enjoy it. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Dave Smith. I think anybody who has the opportunity to go to the new centre once it opens is absolutely blessed. It’s going to be something pretty special.

Kadin is a graduate of the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Dave

“Every client is different, and it’s fascinating getting to know each one’s story. It’s so rewarding, especially when you have a client who becomes really comfortable working with you.”
— Dave Whalen

 

“In this field, it’s the little things that are rewarding. There are a lot of little steps you have to take through this process.”

I didn’t have a direct path to my work at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. After graduating from university, I went to teach English in South Korea for several years. When that was coming to an end, I knew I wanted to continue working with youth in some capacity. When I came home in 2012 I went back to college to do a Child and Youth Worker program, and that’s when I started hearing about the Centre.

For the first three years I was on-site in Carleton Place, working with youth one-on-one and in groups as an Addictions Counselor. The joy of the job was being with the clients eight hours a day, five days a week, and getting to see the finer points of their progress. The start of the treatment journey can be really rough for a lot of them when they’re first coming into the program, but then over two or three months you get to see the progress that’s being made.

For whatever reason, I tended to gravitate towards the clients in the most difficult circumstances, whether because of their substance use, living situation or family life. I can think of one young man in particular who came into the program a couple of times. He had significant anxiety, and had been there for a couple of days and hadn’t come out of his room at all. I remember it was a Friday evening. The clients would usually come together as a group at the end of the week to discuss what went well for everybody that week and point out things we could work on.

I don’t remember what I said, but I got him to come down for group. It was the first time he had come out of his room, or even interacted with his peer group. I remember because I was leading the group that day and he sat on the couch right next to me. He stayed there for the whole group. I was like, ‘Wow,” because in this field, it’s the little things that are rewarding. It was a victory that we were finally able to get him out of his room to join the group. It does speak to the little steps you have to take through this process.

Now that I’m working as an ACC Counselor, I really enjoy getting to work with the youth one on one. We often say this is when the real work starts, when you have to put the skills you learned at the Centre into place without a massive support team looking out for you, and when you’re back amongst all the triggers that were creating these problems in the first place.

Every client is different, and it’s fascinating getting to know each one’s story. It’s so rewarding, especially when you have a client who becomes really comfortable working with you and with opening up about what’s going on.

The biggest challenge clients face after they leave the Centre is the lack of structure. Summer can be a particularly hard time because they don’t have school and some don’t have a job. They have all this free time. We try to help them build that structure and find pro-social activities they can do to keep them on track with their goals.

I’m really happy to see the capital project come to fruition. This is something that’s been talked about ever since I joined the Centre – and well before that. It’s going to been great to have everybody in one location and, from a functional point of view, that’s going to make all of our jobs easier.

Dave Whalen is an Assertive Continuing Care (ACC) Counselor at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Jenna

“I really do love my job. It’s not only about helping the clients – but also everyone around them. Addiction is not a one-person thing; it ripples out to everyone around that person.”
— Jenna

 

“Addiction is not a one-person thing; it ripples out to everyone around that person. I am very, very passionate about the work I do here because it really hits home for me.”

A family member’s struggle with addiction was something that drew me to work at Dave Smith. We’re dealing with youth, so if we can, in a sense, address those challenges at the beginning maybe it won’t be something that shapes their entire life. That was something I really wanted to be a part of.

One of my favourite parts of this job is the beginning – that very first day clients walk in – because I know the feeling of being a family member walking into a treatment centre to drop someone off. I also know the feeling of picking them up at the end of their treatment, the excitement and just feeling so proud of your loved one. I can really relate to it.

As an Addictions Counselor at the Centre, I pretty much spend 24/7 with clients, which is nice. We get them up out of bed, we run groups with them, we say good night to them – we’re really there. We see them at their best, and we see them at their worst. It’s challenging, and keeps me on my toes. I worked overnights for the first few years before switching to days, and it’s nice to get to know them a little bit more because I’m now seeing them during their waking hours.

A live-in treatment facility that serves youth is a rare thing. I think our clinical director said it best: You’re throwing a group of teenagers together in a house and taking away their only form of coping – which to them, would be substances. I always try to remember that when we have new clients coming in and they are struggling, they are here because they have very poor knowledge of healthy coping skills.

As Addictions Counselors, we hold our clients accountable for the goals they create with their therapists. That might be anything from graduating high school to waking up on time in the morning and other basic life goals. The fantastic thing about Dave Smith is the three months of follow-up outpatient care available to all our clients. The Aftercare Counselors are also there to hold clients accountable, review their relapse prevention plans and talk through potentially high-risk scenarios. It’s a team effort.

I really do love my job. I don’t know if there’s one word I can use to sum up what the Centre means to me. It’s not only about helping the clients – but also everyone around them. Addiction is not a one-person thing; it ripples out to everyone around that person. I am very, very passionate about the work I do here because it really hits home for me.

I just think that the work we do here is absolutely phenomenal. As someone who has a family history of addiction, I know what it’s like. The feeling of hopelessness, the feeling of loss, the feeling of nothing is going to change, right? But then it does. And it’s like the best feeling in the whole world. The growth we usually see in our clients is just astronomical, and it’s so rewarding to be a part of that journey.

Jenna is an Addictions Counselor at the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Nancy

“When I look back on our journey of the last few years, the thing that really strikes me is the support we got as a family from the DSYTC.”
— Nancy

 

“When I look back on our journey of the last few years, the thing that really strikes me is the support we got as a family from the DSYTC.”

Our eldest son, Joe, came home from school in spring of 2020 when COVID hit, and we were quite concerned because it became obvious to us that he was heavily dependent on nicotine and caffeine drinks. He was also drinking a lot (which may not be unusual for a young man) and using weed (which had just become legal).

Joe decided not to go back to university that fall because it was virtual learning. But one day, he had an episode of psychosis, which we later learned was cannabis-induced. This added a completely different layer onto his addictions. As a result of this first episode, Joe was hospitalized for 16 days. An episode of psychosis is like a concussion to the brain, and not surprisingly, we noticed a real change in our son. Joe was working part-time at a grocery store, but he kept using weed, insisting that he could manage it. Over the next year, things were very up and down, as Joe had multiple episodes of psychosis, each different in nature, but all linked to weed.

This situation was very stressful for us as parents and for Joe’s younger brother, who was struggling to finish high school, which was much different due to COVID lockdowns. But the shift to online learning allowed us to send his brother to stay with relatives in Toronto for a while, as the situation at home with Joe deteriorated.

After another severe episode of psychosis, Joe again ended up in hospital in at the end of 2021. This time we told him that when he was discharged from hospital, he couldn’t come home until we saw that he was serious about addressing his addictions. Joe wasn’t yet 21, and the hospital told him (and us) about the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre. Joe agreed to this option.

However, there were no openings at the DSYTC at that point. It was mid-January. We knew there was a waiting list, and due to COVID restrictions, the Centre was operating at half-capacity, as clients could not share rooms. As he knew he could not come home, Joe stayed with a relative for six weeks until a spot at DSYTC came free. Finally, we got word that Joe could begin the program.

Joe was a reluctant participant at DSYTC, but we noticed immediately that he had structure in his life – good sleep, hygiene, food, physical activity. He was getting his medication. He was getting counseling. The son we knew before seemed to be returning. And for the first time, while Joe was in DSYTC and for three months afterwards, we, as parents, received support, education, and counselling, thanks to regular meetings with our Family Therapist, Shannon.

Joe only stayed at the DSYTC for a month, choosing to discharge himself early from the program. He moved into an apartment with a friend and went back to his job. But when I look back on our journey of the last few years, I can see that the support our family got from the DSYTC was a turning point for Joe — and for us.

Today, we are proud of how well Joe is doing in managing his mental health. He has a new job. He hopes to return to finish his university studies one day. Joe still struggles, as do we, with his cannabis use, but his situation is stable, and our relationship with him is much improved, as is his relationship with his brother.

I know my son and our family would be in a very different place today were it not for the help we received through the DSYTC. It`s why we have donated money to the project to build the new facility, and have written to political decision-makers urging ongoing support for the important work that DSYTC does for youth who are struggling with addictions. It`s also why I am grateful for this chance to share our family’s story as clients of the DSYTC.

Nancy is a parent of a former client and a DSYTC donor.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001
 

Village of Hope Stories – Jess

“As a youth struggling with addiction, I found hope for a better life and future at Dave Smith, and seven years later, I am living the life I only could have dreamed of as a struggling 16-year-old.”
— Jess

 

“Seven years later, I am living the life I only could have dreamed of as a struggling 16-year-old…”

I started doing drugs when I was 14 or 15. Some of my friends had told my mom, and then my mom went to look for all these rehab places I could go to. I originally went to one near where I live in Waterloo, but I didn’t like it much. I tried to run away and then they kicked me out. Then I went to a different one in Windsor, and I graduated from that program. But when I came back, I started doing drugs again. I dropped out of high school and stopped living at home.

Then my mom was talking with a bunch of people who told her about the Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre, and they encouraged her to try to get me to go there. Of course, I didn’t want to go. People kept telling me to treat it like a vacation – ‘just go and do your best and see if it works out for you, and just leave if it doesn’t work.’ So that was kind of my plan. I was going to go, then come home and start doing drugs again.

After I got to DSYTC, I didn’t want to stay at first. I used to always pack up my stuff and go to leave. And then one night about halfway through the program, I just thought, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m not going to leave. I might as well just keep trying and keep putting my all into it.’ The program really helped show me what my life could be if I stopped using, and what my life would be if I kept using. My therapist helped me realize that I had a lot buried down and it was helpful to come up with the reasons why I did drugs and why I wanted to stop. It motivated me to keep working at it.

“Before the program, I was almost a shell of the person I used to be…”

I really liked all the staff members – they’re so supportive. Talking with them was one of the things that got me to stay. They were awesome at calming me down when I was upset. They never made me feel I was lesser than them because I was there.

I was seven years clean on February 1, 2023. Dave Smith changed my life in ways that I never thought were possible. It was more than just a rehab facility: it was a safe haven that offered me a space to explore my identity and discover who I am as a person. I was able to identify my needs and boundaries and learn how to communicate effectively with others. This has allowed me to build strong and supportive relationships with my loved ones that continue to this day.

Before the program, I was almost a shell of the person I used to be. When I walked through those doors, I was at the lowest point in my life, and I felt there was no way out of my addiction. However, the staff at Dave Smith believed in me, and they helped me see that recovery is possible and they gave me the tools I needed to make it happen. Above all, they gave me hope.

“Dave Smith changed my life in ways that I never thought were possible…”

I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that attending Dave Smith opened up for me. Getting clean was, hands-down, the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life, but it was so incredibly worth it. The things I learned at Dave Smith were invaluable and they contribute to helping me to this day. As a youth struggling with addiction, I found hope for a better life and future at Dave Smith, and seven years later, I am living the life I only could have dreamed of as a struggling 16-year-old.

Jess is a DSYTC alumnus who is now in her final year of studies at the University of Waterloo. Following her graduation at the end of summer, she plans to travel and make a pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago.

 
 
 




There’s been a lot of progress made on the new build!

 


112 Willowlea Road,
Carp, Ontario K0A 1L0
613-594-8333 ext.1201
Charitable Registration # 88992 6242 RR0001