Below we paraphrase a letter written to the YMCA and to Alex's Foundation by the mother of a young member of the Teen Center. We will call her Andrea.

"We have all heard the saying: 'It takes a village to raise a child.' I never realized what it meant until recently. I thought I was the only one who was going to shape my child's life, never thinking for a moment that many others would have an effect on Andrea's life. I was going to love her and protect her from all the hurts of the world. Only with age comes wisdom.

Because of the death of her father, Andrea lost herself in a very dark place. She became a shadow of herself. She locked herself in her room and stopped communicating with everyone. She didn't care about the world around her. There were many times I was afraid of what she might do to herself. I took all the avenues I thought I had. I took her to a therapist with whom she wouldn't open to. I took her to a doctor to get medecine which only seemed to confuse her more. I knew time would heal but I didn't know if I had time.

One day, after arriving home from school, she announced that she wanted to go to the Teen Center, which took me by surprise.

I dropped her off with some of her friends feeling a little apprehensive.

Slowly but surely miracles started happening. She would frequent the Teen Center every week. She would come home with stories about the new friends she was making, the activites that were available, and the counsellors who were so cool. The change in her was incredible.

I truly feel blessed that my daughter has the Teen Center. She has a safe haven where she can go. She is not hanging around street corners. She has formed a healthy relationship with the counsellors and she looks up to them. Also, she feels they care about her. There have been times when I picked her up and someone was outside with her so she wouldn't have to be alone. The counsellors are such great role models for the kids.

I can't express enough gratitude to everyone who make the Teen Center what it is today. Without you, the children of the Island would be in a very different place."