Amy Finn (10)

I'd absolutely love to share a story about Amy Finn. I grew up in a drug infested impoverished neighborhood. I was fortunate enough compared to some of my peers that my parents didn't have a substance abuse problem. My home was drug and alcohol free. My dad was a factory worker and my mom stayed home with us kids, so unfortunately that's where we could afford to live.

Like many people in my community, I often found myself in trouble. Nothing major given the things I seen in my neighborhood. Shoplifting from the mall, fights in the park, disobeying my parents, skipping school.

Officer Finn once had to bring me home because I had run away. At 14 I thought I knew everything and my parents knew nothing and didn't understand. They had called the police and put out a report for the police to locate me and bring me home. I remember I was found at a local teen dance and there were a few officers there. Amy volunteered to drive me home. On the drive she had a talk with me that stuck. She knew the neighbourhood, the people, the struggles, the pressure a young girl can feel to fit in. When I say she knew, I really mean that. She didn't just read about it, or hear or have an idea. She was able to really relate to me. She knew how to connect with a 14 year old who was on her way down a path that could potentially ruin her future.

I remember her saying ‘I know your parents, your dad works hard. He's trying to give you a good life. Your mom loves you. If you keep this path up your going to end up stuck here forever and it's going to only get worse.’ When she brought me home, she gave my mom her card and told her, call me if you need any help. Amy meant that. Over the next couple years my mom, did call on Officer Finn and EVERY time, AMY SHOWED UP. Sometimes just to pop in and see how I was doing or have another chat with me, remind me I could be anything I wanted in this world if I just kept on the right path. Sometimes it wasn't even about me but just to reassure my mom she was doing a great job and to give her some faith that I was a bright girl and this adolescent phase would pass. Amy saw a spark in me that was different than everyone else around me. A potential I didn't always see.

Today I am a nursing student with no criminal record and no substance abuse issues. I credit a lot of my accomplishments to Officer Finn for her encouragement and her guidance. Where I'm from, it's very rare that someone doesn't give up on you. I believe it takes a very unique person to be able to connect, empathize and truly get through to a struggling teen from the type of environment I came from.

Even today, if I needed a pep talk and some words of encouragement I know I could reach out to Officer Amy Finn. Her job was done the moment she returned me to my parents after I ran away, that was over 10 years ago... I can still call on her today if I needed to. It doesn't get more above and beyond than that.

Photo credit: Trevor Terfloth/The Daily News