Daybreak’s Life Enrichment Director, Catherine Reynolds shares her story as a mother “The greatest of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. -Gandi

“The means of life is to find your gift- the purpose of life is to give it away”. Pablo Picasso

These two quotes are my all time favorite. For those who know me, know I love being the voice for the voiceless of animals and youth.

I have a personal story as a mom trying to figure out my relationship with my teenage daughter who is now a 28-year-old woman in her second year of veterinary school. My daughter, Valerie, struggled with her identity and self-confidence, some of just a few of the determining factors that led to drug abuse and alcohol. It was bad enough watching my daughter struggle, but it got worse over time, to the point that my family and I lost contact with her for over a year.

I can share the great details for those who want to know what we went through as a family. But, more importantly, I want you to know that there is hope and redemption, love truly conquers all. Valerie and I have a always shared a love for animals as well as a love for human connection. During the daunting year of unknowing whether or not she’d live or die, I had what some would consider an “A-Ha Moment.” I realized that our youth are facing so much these days. From teen suicide, depression or peer pressure to drugs and alcohol. The list goes on and continues to grow. My heart hurt for my daughter and I felt she wasn’t able to express her voice, she wasn’t being heard. I felt that I knew her better than her counselor and I wanted to help be her voice, help her express what was wrong.

My “A-Ha moment” inspired me to go back to school and earn a degree in addiction studies. I earned my CDP (chemical dependency professional) license and became an advocate for those struggling. I currently am the Life Enrichment Director at Daybreak Youth Services, catering to the needs of teens in Spokane Washington who struggle with substance abuse and mental health. I also serve on the board for the Humane Society in Spokane, advocating for the care and fair treatment of animals.

Some Advice?

  • You can’t control everything. But, you can love someone through anything!
  • Be aware of outside influences.
  • Don’t be too quick to judge and make assumptions.
  • Always listen with the intent to understand rather than with the intent to reply.
  • Make sure you don’t confuse love with authority. (Control can limit one’s independence).

We can all help and we need to support one another and speak up for those without a voice and for those who are still searching for theirs.