WOW! We are almost halfway through #GivingChallenge18 and we have been blown away by your generosity.
We have a special letter from a youth (who wishes to remain anonymous)
about what ALSO means to them...
The first time I went to ALSO Youth, I was fourteen and terrified. I was a kid that was closed up all of the time. I didn’t share things with other people about what I liked, or what I thought. I was seeing a therapist regularly to deal with intense anxiety and depression. I was confused and scared because I didn’t have the resources or structures to fully understand what I was feeling or explore who I was. Asking to go to ALSO Youth solidified in my mind that I couldn’t really go back in the closet. Actually walking through the door of the center felt like the closet door locked behind me. When I went in, everyone was bright and happy and polite… but despite how friendly and welcoming they were, I still had my hands in my pockets to hide the fact that they were shaking. I sat alone on a couch and watched the other people there and didn’t say a word.
But that was okay. I wasn’t mocked for it, I wasn’t ignored because of it, I wasn’t pitied because of it. Shortly after I sat down alone, someone dropped in next to me and started talking with me; they brought in everyone else and shifted the conversation so I could join (or stay quiet) if I wanted to. They pushed me out of my comfort zone but still respected my boundaries. They let me feel safe.
So I kept going back to the center. I started understanding myself, because I had the space to test who I was without judgment, to experiment with my identity without worrying that I had to commit to it forever. I discovered who I was and I was proud of it. I started talking to people, not just at the center, but in general. I made more friends than I had ever had. I never went back into the shell I used to hide myself in.
Sometimes I think back to that kid I was when I first went to ALSO. The one who just about never talked for more than a few words. The one who never raised their voice. The one who cried all the time. The one who hated every moment around other people, because they were scared of being who they were. I wonder what they would have been like if they grew up without the help I got.
I’ll never know them, because the me I am now is exactly who I want to be.
I’m the person that kid never dreamed they could ever be.
ALSO has been integral to my development as a person and that’s no exaggeration. The memories I’ve made here are some of my very best. Today, I feel like ALSO is family: shoulders to cry on, guidance when I was lost on the most confusing paths in my life, shelters in harsh storms, a light when my whole world seemed dark.
ALSO is part of who I am. It’ll always be that. I’ll be forever grateful for it.
Anonymous, age 18
There's still time to have your donation (up to $100 per individual donor) matched 1:1 by The Patterson Foundation during #GivingChallenge18.
Visit givingpartnerchallenge.org before noon on May 2 to help support our mission.