Meet Allison: A real-life story of an Avary youth

Dear Project Avary Supporter,

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Do you ever feel like you have no one to talk to? Like you’re so alone in the world and you have nowhere to turn? Growing up with my father in prison, I spent most of my childhood feeling this way.

I was two when my dad got locked up. I don’t remember much about back then, but I do remember the loss being so big. I remember driving hours every weekend just to see him for 30 minutes. I remember being turned away because I was wearing the wrong clothes. I remember not being able to hug him. I remember dinners without him. I remember feeling scared.

I didn’t talk about it much, because most people judged me for my father’s actions. Teachers, friends, and strangers all told me I would wind up in prison just like my dad. It’s as if they determined my fate without even knowing me. They didn’t show me love or tell me I was going to be OK. How’s a kid supposed to be OK if no one tells them they will be?

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Then I went to Camp Avary. It’s as if I walked into a magical place where everyone finally understood what I was going through. We sang songs, we ate good food, and at the fire circles we shared our stories about having a parent in prison. I’d never felt so loved or accepted. Project Avary was the family I never had.
 
I remember looking up to my counselors so much. My junior counselors and many of the counselors had been through similar things as me. Hearing their stories made me feel like I was no longer alone, and I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. I wanted to be a counselor, and it gave me hope knowing that one day I could be.

These days, I feel so accomplished. As a kid, I was always told that I would get into trouble, but Project Avary helped me carve a new path. Now, as a Junior Counselor, I get to watch new, unsure kids step off the bus, and I get to share my story with them. It feels so good to give back.
 
Your support means everything to us, and we can feel it. Each dollar you give is a gift telling us that you believe in us and that we can make it. Please make your donation today to help make the next generation of Avary Youths' futures as bright as mine.
 
With Avary Love,
Allison Hale
 
Age 18, Junior Counselor

P.S. I've written a poem just for you, so you always have a reminder of how much you mean to me and my Avary Family.

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AVARY LOVE

by Allison Hale

Just a shy seven year old girl going to a camp that Grandma claims will
help me with the absence of my father.

Arriving after what seemed like hours of driving, finally stepping off the
bus and automatically feeling that Avary Love.

Years went by full of fun and love at Camp Avary. Now it is my time to
shine, my time to give back.

Now a Junior Counselor letting the young campers know they are not alone. That there are people who care about them. That we want to see them strive—even if other people are telling them they're gonna end up just like their parents behind bars.

I am so blessed to be a part of this amazing program, and I definitely would not be the person I am today without Project Avary.

And Project Avary would not be the same without each and every one of
you, so I thank you for supporting Project Avary to help kids like me. 

Watch the following video for a note of gratitude from our youth. Thanks for all you do!