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.”

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