Bonds Unbroken: Trevor’s story of loss, discovery and healingOthers, Child Poverty , Mental Health
Contributed by: Youth Unlimited (Greater Vancouver)
Trevor, 25, is a strong, caring and passionate young man, who is often called upon to share his expertise on how to best support struggling youth in Mission. His compassion and knowledge were forged through deep heartache, but also through the committed care he received from a faithful youth worker.
At an early age, Trevor lost his family, navigated foster care, and experienced deep mental health struggles. “I was ten years old when my mom and grandma couldn’t afford to take care of me,’ says Trevor. “I had a happy childhood until I went into foster care.”
THE DIFFICULT EARLY YEARS
“It wasn’t a good environment for me anymore,” Trevor says. “My mother was a drug addict.” Foster care was the only real option for Trevor and his three younger siblings. He vividly remembers “getting ripped out of my mother’s arms,” knowing his life was about to completely change.
For the first few months, Trevor’s mother visited him once a week, but as time passed, the visits lessened. “Eventually, the only way I’d see her was whenever I’d walk the three hours to her house,” he says regretfully, “And I never got to see my siblings when I did go.” Trevor experienced deep pain as his family connections weakened. As his siblings were taken to other homes, there were rarely occasions to reunite.
Sometimes, Trevor was inappropriately housed. For a while he was housed in a run-down camper at the back of his foster care parents’ property. “Foster care was an awful experience,” Trevor says tearfully. “I don’t want it for anybody.”
A FATHER FIGURE
While most of Trevor’s life was marked by inconsistency, there was one constant: Calvin Williams. Calvin is Youth Unlimited’s Mission Area Director, and a MY House youth worker. The two met at a community centre when Trevor was 10, and the connection continued through MY House, a furnished home where homeless youth are welcomed with access to food, showers, clothing, counselling, and life-changing relationships.
“Calvin invited me to his church youth group,” says Trevor. “Not long after we were meeting regularly.” These one-on-one meetings, coupled with the care and attention Calvin offered, were completely new to Trevor, but they became a catalyst for transformation that continues to this day.
“Trevor and I have been meeting for 15 years now,” says Calvin, smiling. By showing up, offering a listening ear, and providing practical support, Calvin has come alongside Trevor, helping him shape the trajectory of his life.
BATTLES WITH MENTAL HEALTH
Dealt a challenging hand early on in life, Trevor battled mental health issues in a school system that didn’t know how to support him. When he was 14, Trevor learned he struggled with abandonment issues, PTSD, separation anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
“It scared the hell out of me,” he said. “I realized in that moment that I had a lot wrong with me.” While at the time, there wasn’t much the school could do, Calvin played a crucial role in his mental health journey. Trevor is pleased to see that much has changed in the education system within just a few years since he was in school.
REBUILDING A FAMILY
About a year ago, Trevor learned that his mother had given up a baby when she was just 16—Trevor had an older brother!
“I was just happy that I was meeting more family after losing touch with so many of them,” says Trevor, who was united with Aaron in 2020. “I’m trying to build a family back up; family is everything to me.”
He often encourages his siblings to meet together, and has continued with virtual meetups throughout the pandemic.
Not only has Trevor been reunited with his biological siblings, he has found his other family. Trevor recently learned he is part Metis and started to visit the Friendship Centre in Mission, an Indigenous community centre. His Indigenous friends quickly accepted him. “I started making a lot of native friends,” Trevor says. “To me, they are all my family.”
The friendship Trevor and Calvin share has been a beautiful journey. “After all of these years Calvin is the only support worker who has pretty much filled every role of counsellor and friend,” Trevor says admiringly. “But the ultimate role he’s filled is a father, and he still continues to help me out so much.”
Today, Trevor is frequently invited to speak on youth forums. He offers advice to non-profits on how to better support youth who have experienced personal or familial drug abuse.