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Hiding in Plain Sight: The Stories of Today’s Youth


“This is my first meal of the day!” At 11:30 p.m. my heart sank as I sat across the table from Trey and watched him devour a donut and a small chocolate milk.

I had stayed late that night after drop-in to catch up on some work. I left the centre just after 11:00 p.m. and on my drive home noticed Trey on his bike. Sitting at a stop light, I watched him cross the road, pull up in front of a Tim Hortons, and walk in. Though my mind said, “just drive home” my heart said, “go in and see him.”

I decided to join him.

I already knew Trey quite well. A student in Grade 9, he moved back and forth between his mom’s and his dad’s, and occasionally lived with his grandparents as well. His father had been in and out of jail for drug related offences and his mother suffered from severe mental health challenges that more often than not went largely unaddressed.

In the short time I had known Trey, I had already identified this 14-year-old kid as a survivor. The stories he had shared with me about his life and his family were both shocking and heart-breaking … and yet here he was, eating his first “meal” of the day, still willing to share his life with me. He even offered to share his donut with me!

As a result of this “chance” meeting late at night, several actions were put in place to help ensure Trey would have his basic needs met. Amongst many other action items, including connecting him to other service providers in Milton, we began to provide gift cards for groceries and made sure he had a good meal when he was at the Youth Centre as well.

Though I often feel what we can offer in terms of meeting “basic needs” is small (another reason working with other service agencies in Milton is vital) teens like Trey remind me that just having a place to be and belong is his greatest need. He has told me on many occasions that without the love and encouragement of adults who really care, he doesn’t know where he’d be today.

Trey is no longer hiding, at least from those he trusts … and Trey continues to hold onto hope! It has not been an easy journey and many times he has wanted to give up. Truthfully, I think most would have! But Trey is a survivor and it is our privilege to walk beside him!


Michael Burns
Director, RE:SOUL Youth Centre / YFC Milton

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