A number of young people taking part in the Homestead For Youth family style recovery program have called on the public for financial help to ensure the integral organisation continues its service.
The Pinjarra based non-profit organisation has been helping teens in need since it opened its doors in 2014.
The farm takes an alternative approach to mental health care for youths and their families with a variety of innovative, holistic therapies such as car restoration, arts and music and an animal farm sensory experience - the first in Western Australia.
But founders Carla and Marty Fadelli and a number of families at the homestead are asking the Western Australian community to play a part in preventing youth suicide by helping them keep their farm home.
“We have leased our farmstead in Meelon since 2017 but we can no longer lease the property,” Mrs Fadelli said.
“To continue working towards achieving a better story ending for our young people, their mental health and their future, we need to buy the farmstead.
“We need to raise $780 by 2019, the full amount of over $1.4 million is due 2020.
“We are appealing to the hearts of every Western Australian to play a part in changing the story on youth suicide by saving our farm.
“Just a dollar donation can save the lives of many young men and women and give them hope for a better, stronger future.”
Stories of success
Luke Smith has been taking part in weekly therapy sessions at Homestead For Youth for six months and said the support available has saved his life.
“My older sister passed away about six months ago and I grew up with her being around looking after me when my mum and step-dad worked away,” he said.
“After she passed, I got drunk a lot and was self-harming so I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with depression.
“He referred me to Homestead For Youth and I’ve been seeing a worker there.”
The 16-year-old said it would be “heart breaking” if the service could no longer continue.
“It’s like a little family when I go there – it makes me feel safe and welcome,” Luke said.
“They’ve helped me so much with what I need and what I’m going through. They’ve been my go-to for support and if money got in the way of that, that would be really disappointing.
After she passed, I got drunk a lot and was self-harming so I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with depression.Luke Smith
“I’m not the only person going through this and I think it’s really important for them to help more people.”
Another participant, who wished not to be named, said taking part in the residential recovery program had been “life-changing”.
Although he’s only young, the 16-year-old has overcome a bumpy road to regain a hold on his life thanks to Homestead For Youth.
“It all started pretty much when I was four when my mum and dad divorced and as I grew up it started to hurt me more and I started to blame myself,” he said.
“By the time I was 12 years old, I started running away from home and one time I went back to one of my friend’s house and he introduced me to smoking pot.
“I got addicted to it.”
After his family moved to Busselton in an effort to escape his influential friends and drugs, he said his downward spiral only accelerated.
“To feed my addiction, I would steal a lot – motorcycles, cars, breaking into houses,” he said.
I cried out to God and asked him to forgive me.Homestead For Youth participant
“I was addicted to marijuana, smoking cigarettes, pornography, stealing, gaming – I was sick of it, it was ruining my life.
“I got locked up three or four times but the third time, I was in there for a month and the marijuana started to wear off and my head cleared up.
“I cried out to God and asked him to forgive me – I just had this desire to change so when I got a chance, I called my mum and gave her the good news and asked her to forgive me.”
The teenager moved back in with his mother, got a job and returned to school, but after a number of toxic relationships and setbacks, he found himself slipping back into old habits.
“I got lost in my sadness and turned back to drugs and was ten times worse than I’d ever been before,” he said.
“I burnt all my bridges with my family.
“But then I had an encounter with God like nothing I’d ever had before and it felt like a bucket of ice water had been poured over me, it was amazing.
“Mum and I went looking for a Christian hostel to go to to get back on my feet and we found Homestead For Youth.”
I got lost in my sadness and turned back to drugs and was ten times worse than I’d ever been before.Homestead For Youth participant
The teenager said he didn’t know where he would be today if it wasn’t for their support.
“I’ve totally changed to a different person – if you saw me today, you wouldn’t believe what I said I used to do,” he said.
“These people are doing amazing things for the community and youth and helping the broken kids at risk, it’s been life changing.
“They take you in to their family and I’m so grateful to be here.
“Whether we keep the farm or not, Homestead will always be helping kids – that’s what’s in our heart.”
To donate or get involved in Homestead For Youth’s fundraising efforts, please visit www.homesteadforyouth.org.
Support is available by calling Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Lifeline on 131 114, or beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36.