Volunteer guides youth for life

When he was in Grade 6, Fitzroy Facey’s teacher told his mother he’d be on the front page of a newspaper someday on a most-wanted poster.

“That helped in a way,” he said, “because … how can you look at a sixth grader and tell them they’re going to be an evil human being?”

Eighteen years later, instead of appearing on a wanted poster, Facey appears to be wanted as a mentor by youth in Toronto. He’s a volunteer and program co-ordinator at the 4Life Foundation, a charity organization that helps at-risk youth.

“I always have this conversation about your purpose in life with the kids I work with,” he said. “I feel like my purpose in life is to help others.”

Just last month, Facey acquired a grant from ArtReach Toronto to fund an anti-violence campaign. It will will help connect young people with mentors across Toronto.

Just as Facey tries to help troubled youth, so he was helped by 4Life program co-ordinator Joseph Khargie. He encouraged Facey to find his true calling.

“We do this because it wasn’t done for us,” Khargie said. “When we were growing up, you either went home watched Pokemon or Dragon Ball Z, but there was no program. (There was) no basketball, soccer or anything for you to do unless you were part of the team. Because of that I started to get into trouble myself.”

Kevin Clark is a 16-year-old who’s looking forward to participating in the anti-violence project; previously he attended a 4Life retreat co-ordinated by Facey.

“Fitzroy’s a cool dude,” Clark said. “I feel like he actually listens when you talk to him, unlike the other people I’ve spoken to. … When I told him I wanted to be a bus driver when I grow up he didn’t laugh. He respects us and it’s inspiring.”

Facey’s philosophy is simple when he deals with young people.

“Youth are very impressionable and the way you treat them will affect them over the next five or six years,” he said. “Not every young person can be told they’d turn bad and use that as motivation. They need someone who looks at them on the same level.”