A week ago, I was sitting in the back of a Catholic church reflecting on the tumultuous year ReBuild: Youth Mechanics Program has experienced in 2017. April and May had been particularly turbulent. Like riding a rollercoaster, we watched funding opportunities come and go, and with them our plans for expansion. There I sat in the church feeling a little frustrated while awaiting the start of a high school graduation for one of the youth who loves being involved in ReBuild.
Earlier this year, Michael and I rode a rollercoaster together at West Edmonton Mall and I know he will remember the “pit in the stomach” feeling we had. We have also talked numerous times about the ups and downs he has experienced the past few years. Michael’s life went topsy-turvy with a few years ago when he made a number of bad decisions that ended with him being expelled from school, leaving home, and working a roofing job at 16 years old. The job didn’t last long, but through fortunate circumstances, Michael found a stable place to live and re-enrolled in an outreach school with Edmonton Catholic Schools. The school then referred him to the ReBuild program in an effort to keep him engaged and invest in his future.
Over the past 18 months, Michael has pursued mechanics with passion and our program volunteers have built into his life in unbelievable ways. ReBuild volunteers helped him obtain 5 high school work experience credits through our shop work, get his driver’s license, land a job, and demonstrate the characteristics of a good man. Michael deserves credit for working hard, repairing relationships with his parents and being open to learn from those around him.
As I sat and reflected on 2017 and Michael’s life, a young girl showed up beside me on the church pew and said, “Would you like to come sit with me and my mom to watch Michael’s graduation?”. It was with great joy that I watched Michael graduate and saw the smile on his mom’s face grow throughout the ceremony.
Michael is now exploring the best options to pursue a career in mechanics and I am sure that he will make a good decision. The roller coaster may not be over for Michael or ReBuild, but we continue to push forward with hope for the future expecting that the best is yet to come.