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Youth Action Centre helped turn man?s troubled life around

BY KEITH LACEY Rick Dube says the respect and support he?s received at the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth has helped him turn his life around. Rick Dube and his girlfriend Heather Pilrainen will become parents in November.

Rick Dube says the respect and support he?s received at the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth has helped him turn his life around.

Rick Dube and his girlfriend Heather Pilrainen will become parents in November.
Giving a testimonial at the youth action centre?s Annual General Meeting Wednesday evening at Cassio?s Hotel, Dube told the large gathering how he?s changed from a young man with a dim future to a proud expectant father with plenty of hope.

He also recounted how he overcame a life of crime and thoughts of suicide, telling the captive audience he now looks forward to returning to school, pursuing a career, being a father and a better citizen.

?When I first started going to the action centre, I was very suicidal at times,? said Dube, 25, who moved to Sudbury from Timmins two years ago.

?The staff there really helped me a lot. I had spent a lot of my youth in jail?it just seemed easier to me to be in jail than out here in the real world.?

Through his connection with the action centre, he?s become involved in the peer mentoring program and spends much of his free time trying to complete the program.

Once he graduates in late June, he will be qualified to offer advice to other young people who are having difficulty finding a place to live, abusing drugs and alcohol and attempting to overcome a myriad of other problems.

Dube left home at age 15 and when he wasn?t in jail, often lived on the streets in both Timmins and here in Sudbury.

He heard about the action centre from other young people who came from similar backgrounds.

While he initially had difficulty placing trust in strangers, he came to accept counselling and advice offered by professionals at the Elm Street centre.

?I finally started to open up and talk about my life, and it didn?t take me long to realize I was pretty messed up,? he said.

Counsellors Carol Pilon and Kiley Raine were more than just counsellors?they were Dube?s ?street moms? ? who always made sure he had someone to talk to and services to access when he needed it, he said.

Dube has since moved in with his girlfriend Heather Pilrainen and they?re expecting to become parents in November. With a renewed outlook on life and the prospect of becoming a father in his near future, Dube says he?s determined to make something good out of his life.

?I?d like to be a professional counsellor one day,? he said. ?My real goal is to return to school and go to college or university and get some papers to become a professional counsellor.?

Dube, who is extremely shy but possesses a quiet confidence, says he had to panhandle for several months just to get enough money to feed himself after he arrived in Sudbury.

?I panhandled a lot, but I had to because I didn?t have any money and I had to eat,? he said. ?Some people would pass by me and spit and swear and tell me to get a job and once a guy kicked the cup I used to hold the money, out of my hand.

?That pissed me off because I was always very polite to everyone. If they gave me money, I thanked them and if they didn?t, I told everyone to have a nice day.?

Now that he?s found a permanent address with his girlfriend, Dube has accessed social assistance.

His goal is to go back to school, get off social assistance and help others who struggle every day to survive.

?This world is really messed up and hard and my goal is to be able to help young people who have (had) a rough life,? he said. ?I want to tell them to fight and not give up and tell them there are good people like those here at the centre who will help them.?

More than a drop-in centre, the Sudbury Youth Action Centre provides a wide assortment of counselling programs, housing and job assistance programs, casual labour pool, intravenous drug use outreach program, a needle exchange program, outreach programs with other community service providers and much more.

Last year, the centre registered more than 1,000 new clients, documented 13,000 visits from clients seeking assistance, placed 2,700 workers in 2,000 casual labour jobs, resulting in the creation of 30 full-time jobs, helped prepare 1,000 resumes, assisted 500 clients for drug and alcohol abuse and provided 1,200 referrals to outside agencies.

The centre is located at 105 Elm St. Unit A. The phone number is 673-4396.


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