I have spent a considerable amount of time putting together words, formulating sentences, creating paragraphs and then deleting them. I feel an immense weight on my shoulders as I contemplate exactly what words I want to use to create the first blog post. How to you put into words exactly what Cyrus Centre is and what we do? I’ve written dozens upon dozens of blog posts in my life and yet for some reason this feels different. This doesn’t feel like your average blog post because I know this isn’t going to be your average blog. My brain is swarming with stories I have heard during my time here at Cyrus Centre. When I started working at Cyrus Centre I assumed I would hear endless stories of heartbreak, trials, and suffering. I assumed Cyrus Centre was a big part of a lot of youth’s stories. What I didn’t expect was how Cyrus Centre would become a part of mine.

I can still remember the first time I heard about Cyrus Centre. I was in grade 9, sitting in chapel and there was a man and woman speaking about a new organization starting up here in my hometown of Abbotsford, British Columbia. The man and woman were talking about youth who were living on the streets right here in Abbotsford. In the perfect little world I had grown up in, never once had I heard of teens my age being homeless in my hometown. Not only were they homeless, they were victims. Victims of sexual exploitation, victims of abuse, victims of addiction, victims of hunger, victims of poverty. That day I was exposed to a world so much different from the one I had spent my whole life living in. And yet our worlds were about to become much closer than I ever knew.

My name is Maren, and I would like to take this first blog post to introduce myself. 5 years ago I stepped through the doors of Cyrus Centre for the first time to pick up a volunteer application. I thought I would show up 4 hours a week, engage with youth, feed them a meal, go home. I didn’t think that five years later I would still be here as a full-time staff member. I didn’t think I would redirect the focus of my post-secondary education to equip me to work for a non-profit organization. I didn’t think Cyrus Centre would become a huge part of my life. I didn’t see any of my current circumstances coming.

But that’s the thing about life. Often, things happen in our lives that we don’t expect; things we can’t predict, can’t control, but mostly things that we never even asked for. If I could summarize the stories that fill the walls of Cyrus Centre into one sentence, it would be that. The youth we work with at Cyrus Centre didn’t ask for their current circumstances, they didn’t plan for their life to take this route. This blog is going to be a place where staff, volunteers, and youth can share their stories; a place where people can freely express themselves, where it’s safe to be vulnerable, a place where stories are heard, and a place where people care. Because this is Cyrus Centre, and this is what we do.