In a rural community such as ours, youths are often met with a number of barriers to accessing services for counselling or support outside of their families and school.
When I came to counselling I was nervous for my first appointment, but at Community Options Society (COS) I felt welcomed and comfortable talking about some big events happening in my life. My counsellor came to meet me at my school because I did not have the money for the bus to get to her office. She asked if I wanted to leave the school and go for coffee. I felt this was more welcoming and a less intimidating atmosphere then staying in the counselling office in my school.
When meeting for coffee I got excited because I couldn’t afford to go out that much and I didn’t have a lot of food at home. I felt supported in every way possible. COS was able to transport me to different schools to look at finding a better environment for me; it was supportive in a way that I have never had before and it made it possible to see hope. When I switched schools I was much happier and living in a new place that was safer for me. My counsellor was able to drive to my new school, I grew in confidence and I feel like I learned how to smile.
If I had never met the staff at COS and they were not able to come to me I would still be living in a stressful environment and being bullied at school. The support that COS has given me has shown me that I can do more and I can make changes to make a positive future for myself. This support made me think that I can do it and motivated me to do better; it reminded me that I don’t have to do it alone.
The United Way makes it possible for youths to connect by funding mileage for COS staff to go to the youths or by providing bus tickets so that the youths can attend appointments in the COS office.
In addition to the individual services at COS, youths are often interested in the groups offered within the agency. With the funding from the United Way we are able to staff ongoing groups such as the art group and the gay straight alliance. We also periodically offer a number of other groups such as grief and loss, anxiety, and psycho-educational workshops.
As a staff, we are very appreciative of the community’s support to our programming and the ability of the United Way to help us improve the lives of youth and their families. Please donate to the 2015 campaign. Remember, this is your community, your campaign. United Way: 250-748-1312 or www.cowichan unitedway.com