Video: Tricia Gurley
Innovative Collaborations to Improve Youth Outcomes: A Federal, State, and Local Dialogue
Tricialouise Gurley, Youth MOVE National Founding Board Member, passed away August 3, 2012 in her home in Montreal, Canada. This is a tremendous loss to the youth movement, as Tricia had a huge impact on youth empowerment, advocacy, and cross-system change on a national level.
I have often referred to myself as a product of the system. At a very young age, I started receiving services – in second grade, I started receiving therapy.
When you talk about high risk, at risk youth, youth that probably aren't going to make it, I would – I was that young person.
It saddens me to say that it took me almost losing my life – well, taking my life – to receive the services that I needed. I finally got a social worker that listened and that really heard me and didn't take my father's word over mine and put me, advocated for me to be taken away permanently and I became ward of the state. I'm from New York, and I went to a residential, and I know there's a lot of controversy over residentials, and my residential saved my life and for the first time in my life I got to be a kid.
I graduated in 1999 and we often talk about transition, transition's always a huge piece of conversation, and I didn't have transition when I left my placement, which was the biggest downfall, that and the lack of education. I went into college and at the time I had severe social anxiety disorder.
I was withdrawn in 2001, and found myself shortly after becoming homeless at the age of 20. And there's nothing more traumatizing, well, there are things more traumatizing but for me at this point to have gone so far and to fall back so far, it was really detrimental for me and I wound up in a homeless shelter where I was the youngest person by 18 years, and everyone else there was addicted to some hardcore drugs. In that time, I got linked with an amazing therapist, and through that an intensive case manager who linked me with this youth group, and she's like "Oh, you know – it's not horrible, if you don't like it just call my cell and I'll pick you up." And I'm like "Ehhh…" I go and for the first time in a very long time I met other young people that had been through similar situations as me, and even if they hadn't been through the exact same situation, we shared common feelings of lost loneliness, feeling like you don't belong. And I found home, so to speak, again and through that I started advocating for young people and then I started doing it more on a community basis and then more on a state level, and then one day I got a call from a Marlene Matarese, who ironically is now my supervisor, and asked me if I was interested in doing, if I was interested in advocating for youth on a national level, and I said yes, and hence, Youth Move National was born.
Professionals have a certain level of expertise, but the youth and the families that live through these times have an – I have 27 years of experience. And I use it to further all of our cause.
'Cause often we have the adults saying well we, we want this but we can't find the youth and our youth just aren't interested. It's if you ask them they'll speak and they'll come up with some sweet ideas and they do provide a very refreshing and invigorating look to things that are currently going on.