Lately it seems that the world has been speeding up. There is so much going on like: natural disasters, social injustice, poverty and
inequality. Not only is there so much going on, but we also have access to all of it. There is no shortage of information, and news on social
media can be seen even when we aren’t trying to see it; it can be overwhelming.
For young people who have grown up in a culture of connectivity they are constantly navigating this kind of information and dealing
with the everyday pressures of being a modern young person. All of this makes it more and more pressing to be actively connecting our
young people to help them navigate the ups and downs and the pressure that comes along with fast paced, media drenched, pressure
cooker of modern society.
I spoke to Woodney Pierre, the founder of the Matty Jae Youth Foundation (MJYF), who is doing this kind of work. No stranger to the
struggle faced by young people today, Miss Pierre founded the MJYF in 2012 when her brother Matthew Jean Leger lost his battle with
depression, resulting in taking his own life away. Recognizing the need for young people to have someone to reach out to she founded
this fast growing non-profit foundation. This is what she had to say about the work they are doing and the landscape young people are
The loss of your brother prompted you to start MJYF. What was it that God was saying to your heart that made you want to reach out to
For me, there is a season for everything, an appointed time when God will bring forth a testimony or an opportunity to touch others. It
is easy to not notice what is going on around you unless it hits close to home. For my family to suffer the loss of my brother to suicide,
it really hit home the importance of mental health in young people. Seeing the generations coming up being bombarded culturally,
socially and with the high expectations they have to meet, they don’t always have the guidance or a voice to speak up for them. I think
at this point we need to make it known they are valued; they are the future and we need to preserve their state of mind. It’s almost like a
sense of innocence once it is shattered it’s hard to put back together. So, we want to let them know the importance of their wellbeing; the
importance of who they are as a person and that the impact they are going to have on the future is important as well.
What does that MJYF do to help youth?
It says in the Bible that God will give you beauty for ashes. I have always had a heart for working in the community, and I always thought
I’d do something but never thought it would be this. When the incident happened, it seemed like God’s instruction was pretty clear. The
foundation has three pieces: Mental Health Awareness, Mentorship and the Arts. For the mental health portion we do education on how
to handle mental health and removing the stigma around it. For mentorship we have partnered with Evergreen Youth Mission and started
a music-recording project where street youth can come and use the facilities for expression and creativity. We also had the chance to do
work in Haiti through an organization called Viva Haiti. We did arts programing at a school, and Human Resource workshops with a local
Every year we hold a fundraiser to fund these programs and this year we added Stepstones for Youth, a camp for young and adolescent
girls. They provide programs in mentorship and the arts to help at risk youth from the foster system.
You’ve done a lot in short period of time!
It’s all God. It is all Jesus.
Speaking of God, we’ve talked about how youth are under attack today. It’s a very turbulent world and there is a lot going on. What role
does God have in the healing of these young people? Is healing possible without Him?
For sure, the answer is no. The healing requires God. He is the root of it all.
For me, it is impossible for youth to receive the healing and help they desire without God. It goes back to Psalm 139: 14, ”I praise You
because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I think that is one of the biggest points. We have the tag line “Shine Your Light” , which,
means to love your self the way God loves you. To see your self the way God sees you. A lot of young people have been through situations and it leads to a hardened heart. There is no time to adapt, no time to process, no one talking you through it. So, for them to meet
someone who is able to shine a light to let them know you are valuable, you are important, there is hope for you and there is a future for
you. This is what will bring them out of that dark place and help them shine their light.
To volunteer, donate or find out more, visit: www.mattyjaeyouth.com
SHINE YOUR LIGHT
BY. DAGMAR MORGAN