Eastside Teen Outreach has touched my life in more ways than I can explain, I couldn’t imagine going through life as a teen without it. I joined this group in October 2007 when I was 15 years old. From that day forward I knew my life had to change; I realized there was something better for me out there for me.
I came from a Christian background at a very young age, but I never really understood what it meant to me personally. I attended church every Sunday for years and I remember things just flying over my head, I wasn’t able to grasp the lessons and teaching. I drifted apart from life itself, I turned to self-infliction and got swallowed into a world of lies and deceit. I built a wall around my heart after becoming a victim to a sex crime and suicide started to become a reality in my mind. No one in the world could change my mind about myself, I felt as though even God himself would never be able to win me back. I was disgusted with my own self and hated everyone around me. Even though there were people in my life, good people, I still felt this emptiness, this void that needed to be filled…..and fast.
I was homeschooled my whole life and attended a Christian Homeschool co-op, that’s where I meet Deena. My mom told me I was going to this youth group, and I was very skeptical about this idea. I have had unfriendly experiences with church youth groups and I thought this was group would be no different. I remember walking into a house full of teens and thinking to myself “What have I got myself into?” A girl ran up to me and greeted me with a smile, she introduced me to as many people she knew in the room. I walked up to Deena and introduced myself and she reached out to me for a hug, and it was at that moment that I realized that this group would be different. I felt as though I was walking into a house full of love, genuine love that was meant for everyone. We shared a meal together, which I thought was really cool. Then it was lesson time, but something was different about it. We all sat in a big circle….kids from all different ages, backgrounds and home situations. There were no cliques and no small groups….for the first time I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself, something positive and amazing.
I begin to attend Eastside Teen Outreach ever Thursday for years and I begin to see my relationships with my family, friends, and God growing more and more every day. I started to accept and love myself and no longer felt the need to turn to self-infliction, I realized that I needed to be part of this world, there were kids just like me that were watching and needed to hear my story. Eastside Teen Outreach was and is a bridge to where I am now. I came from not knowing who I was and hating myself and everyone around me. Did I have set backs? Yes. Did I want to give up at times? Yes I did. I had to keep going, I couldn’t give up…there was no room to quit. I had God on one side and my youth leaders on the other, walking across that bridge with me. The times I felt like breaking down, they were there to hold me up. My friends were on the other side of the bridge cheering me on. When I made it to the other side, I felt like a whole new person. I was finally able to find my own strength in myself through God, and it was at that moment that I was no longer a victim….but a victor.
Now that I’m older I still find myself coming back to East Side Outreach and encouraging the younger students. I think it’s important for them to see someone that has come out alive from the very things that they are going through, and still making positive choices, and yet strong enough to impact other peoples’ lives.
Throughout life you will have more and more bridges to cross. Some may be harder to get through than others, but once you find that uncompromising strength through God and the support of positive people in your life, it makes the difference. Thank you Eastside Teen Outreach for being that difference in my life.
- Former ETO teen now graduated and attending Oakland University, Olivia Horn., age 20
Hi my name is Summer S. and I am 17 years old and I attend East Detroit High School. I first heard about East Side Teen Outreach when Deena and her son Doug started attending S.T.A.T.I.C which is a Christian organization that is held every Wednesdays at my school. They started last year and went for about half the year. It was always a joy to see them come because they would give us pointers about how to make our group a place that people want to come and learn about God. They would also tell us about the youth group that they ran and it all sounded enjoyable buy I had a youth group and was never able to join during the school year. During the summer, however, my youth group took a break. I then started going to Deena and Doug’s youth group.
When I first walked into youth group I got this sense of comfort and belonging. Everyone was so nice and even took the time to greet me and get to know me. I knew I definitely was going to be here for a while and even get involved in some of the upcoming events. One of those events was a group called Legacy. This is a group for students who want to take their faith to another level and grow more in God. This group I know has helped me and has given others a feeling of security and self-pride. This group with prayer has changed the way some of us live our day to day lives and without this group a lot of us would be nothing. I am really glad I joined.
- ETO teen & East Detroit High School Student, Summer S. , age 17
Reflection: How A Local Youth Group Changed My Life
I remember the day vividly. It was in May of 2009, near the end of my senior year, that a friend of mine tipped me about a youth group in my area, and based on what she told me, it sounded like a lot of fun. I was skeptical at first but decided to give it a try. Eastside Teen Outreach has since become another family to me, and my experiences there are endless and priceless. After attending a few meetings near the end of my senior year, I knew that God was doing great things with my life. After graduating from Specs Howard, the leader, Mrs. Deena Trocino, invited me back. When I was a regular at ETO, I met amazing people and got to hear their personal struggles and how they were able to accomplish defeating those struggles. I remember parades, pool parties, the constant moving of buildings, and everything that we did was a truly moving experience. What really helped me personally were all the messages Mrs. Deena shared about the issues of today. It gave me a better understanding about how to handle the issues of the world, and how God will lead us to good decisions in life. I truly feel like my experiences at ETO have helped me become the person I am today. Even though I’m not a regular anymore, I still try to find time to visit them and see what God is doing in their lives. I always recommend ETO to anybody with teenagers as they will have an experience that is unmatched. ETO will always be like another family no matter where life takes me and it was the experience I had during my time there that has helped my motivation and drive throughout my life.