Thank you to Elisa Revoy for sharing her story with us after participating in the 2016 Santa Sleigh Project at Louise Dean Centre.
I got pregnant at 16. A few months after my seventeenth birthday, I had a little boy named Dominick. Being so young and having a tiny baby to care for was terrifying. Thankfully, I had the full support of my parents. The only thing they insisted on was that I finish my education. I started researching schools that would allow me to bring my son, because I could not afford child care. When I heard about the Louise Dean Centre, I knew it was my only option.
It wasn’t until I started at Louise Dean in September 2001 that I realized how much of a blessing this school was. I was able to start working part-time after being approved for financial aid through the school. I met many strong and amazing girls who were in the same situation I was. They could all relate to what I was going through and, best of all, there was no judgment. My teachers were equally amazing; in fact all the staff were very supportive and caring. Louise Dean began to feel more like a second home than a school.
Having the Learning Centre within the school to provide affordable child care while we studied was a tremendous privilege. I will always remember Mindy, who was Dominick’s caregiver. She was the most wonderful woman I had ever met. All the anxiety and worry I had about leaving my young son with a stranger was instantly cured when I met Mindy and the other Learning Centre staff. They treated every child as if they were their own.
After Louise Dean, I went to Bow Valley College for a year and then enrolled in the social work degree program at Mount Royal University. Then I met my now-husband Andrew. He was a pilot with Air Canada at the time and based in Toronto. After a few months of long hard thinking, I made the decision to be with him. I had to give up my acceptance to Mount Royal, but I enrolled in a business and health care college in Ontario and went on to graduate with a diploma in community social work.
I am proud to say that today I am the mother of two amazing boys! Dominick is now 16 years old and in Grade 11. He is a very talented electric guitarist and in his second year of Midget hockey. In 2013, Andrew and I welcomed another little boy. He is the funniest, kindest, most caring little guy you will ever meet. He is obsessed with hockey, airplanes, dinosaurs, skateboarding, soccer and BMXing. If you ask him how old he is, he will tell you he is 16, just like his big brother.
I have always imagined the day when I would be in a position to give back to the place that gave me my start in life. And for the past three years, my family has been in that position. For me it’s more than just donating items to these young moms. Being involved in the Santa Sleigh Project is my way of showing them that just because they had a baby younger than most, success is not impossible – all of them can go on to fulfill their dreams.
The Louise Dean Centre is a partnership between Catholic Family Service, Calgary Board of Education and Alberta Health Services. Louise Dean Centre provides pregnant and parenting teens, their children and families with educational and health care support, as well as helping them deal with the emotional and social needs that come with pregnancy and parenting. For more information, please call us at 403.777.7635.