From foster homes to fostering hope

Dez grew up in the foster care system. Her foster family considered showers and hairbrushes a luxury, and some days she was only given one meal.

In 2013, at the age of 17, Dez became homeless. She tried going to shelters but was turned away because she wasn’t 18 yet. She experienced abuse and violence on the streets, and found herself sleeping under bridges to stay safe. She memorized the addresses and phone numbers of all the support agencies in Calgary, and soon began scouring the streets looking for other youth who needed help.

One day, Dez decided to visit Wood’s Homes EXIT Youth Hub, a United Way-supported facility helping homeless and at-risk youth. Determined to get out of homelessness, Dez signed up for all the Hub’s programs. Her determination to succeed and drive to help other youth soon got her hired as a peer mentor at EXIT.

Today, Dez is a 25-year-old woman on her way to starting her bachelor of child studies. She is determined to use her life experience and her education to help homeless youth rebuild their lives.

A photo of Dez at Woods Homes.


Your social investment in United Way means local children and youth have the supports for mental wellness.

Elijah BeaverDez