Family Reconnect Program
Imagine a teen – your teen – huddled in a doorway overnight. She is afraid, tired, hungry and homeless. Now imagine Nancy Abrams, Supervisor of the ground-breaking Family Reconnect Program, offered by Eva’s Initiatives in Toronto, is there to offer a hand. Since 2002 her job has been to help homeless youth, from 16 to 24, re-establish supportive relationships with their families. Her work allows the youth to return home or live in the community with family support.
Dedicated to helping all marginalized young people find safety, she also introduced an Early Intervention Program for youth at imminent risk of living on the streets. Sound tough? Nancy waves the thought away, instead focusing on the positive. "When I look at my career I have no regrets about what I’ve chosen to do. It’s really a privilege to be part of this journey with people. It truly is," says Nancy, who has over 35 years of experience as a manager, counselor, child and youth worker, college instructor and volunteer. Housed in a wing of the organization’s shelter, Eva’s Place, Nancy says the Family Reconnect Program was launched after workers overheard heartbreaking telephone conversations between youth and their families. The kids wanted to go home, the parents were still angry, or vice versa. With communication skills lacking or too much anger driving a wedge between them, there was no easy way to reconnect youth with their homes. Now, with the help of two Family Intervention Counselors, she meets with the youth, listens to their stories, and is there in the room with them making that first important phone call home. Nancy admits there is a huge gap in the mental health and hospital systems where teens and young adults fall through. Yet with Nancy’s dedication, the gap is closing and turning young lives around.