The Journey Begins

Dra’s Angels supports youth who are in need of support.

We believe in and utilize evidence-based approaches to bring wrap-around support to individuals and their families.

We focus on strengths, interests, and goals because we believe in person-first approaches.

Dra’s Angels is a social impact organization supporting individuals who are going through transition.

We empower youth to find purpose while supporting their identified needs with family style supports.

We cultivate relationships and community through trust and honesty

Dra’s Angels was formed in December, 2019 because of youth whose story we would like to share:
Dradon Plaited Hair
December 14, 1999 – July 28, 2019

Dra’s Angels is a social purpose organization that began because of one youth who has forever changed our lives.

When two youth were in need of support, Karen connected with them and mentored them to find housing, jobs, funding, counselling, and tutored them with their school work. In doing so, Karen and Tasha became connected because the youth lived at Hestia Homes, where Tasha acted as a role model and mentor for youth. With unconditional support, the students graduated and went from addiction and hopelessness to being the first in their families to graduate high school. There were many struggles along the way. However, one consistent theme was always present: how much both youth wanted to succeed and their desire to help others.

One of the youth, Dradon, had a 14-year-old brother, KJ, who was also displaced by the system. Karen and Dradon talked a lot about how they would help his younger brother. Karen and Dradon were in it together and had the motivation and desire to build a better future for a new generation. Unfortunately, two months later, Dra’s little brother passed away. As devastating as losing his brother was, Dradon had support from both Karen and Tasha. He also had connections to a host of community programs, including; Hestia Homes at the YWCA and Victoria Park High School. These supports were instrumental in helping Dradon and his family heal.

Karen’s support provided Dradon a safety net. He continued to attend school as best he could during this devastating time and he graduated in June 2019. The day after graduation Dradon went off to work in the summer as an overland firefighter in Northern Alberta. Dradon was able to continue transitioning into adulthood successfully despite his traumatic experiences and challenges. Dradon was on track to apply to the University of Lethbridge to chase his dream of music production. He was very talented in this area and had already written and produced many songs. He told Karen that the year had been tough, but he had never felt happier. Dradon was so grateful for the support and the opportunities he had been exposed to throughout the year. He said he could have never done this on his own, and he was proud of himself and was determined to keep moving forward.

On a break from firefighting at the end of July, Dradon fell ill with strep throat. He was on medication and felt as though he was getting better. Not even a week later, he became extremely ill again and suddenly passed away from streptococcal toxic shock.

It is impossible to know if, or how, his death could have been prevented. However, we firmly believe that gaps in our current social support systems, as well as prejudices within the system, contributed to his death. It was devastating to witness such potential and positive life be snuffed out too early from a preventable death.

After KJ’s death, Karen and Dradon often talked of how they could change the system. A regular conversation was what they could do for youth and what youth needed to be successful and happy. Dradon was quiet and unassuming yet he helped mentor another teen who was going through some tough times. Despite their difference, the boys were able to develop a positive peer-to-peer relationship. Karen’s strong relationship with both youth inspired the connection that entwined their lives. It was remarkable to watch the link and the concern for one another blossom. This experience spoke volumes to our team about what is possible when relationships are built, and youth are supported to pursue their dreams.

As we reflect on Dradon’s life and sudden passing, we recognize that his story is not unique. Many individuals in Lethbridge and surrounding areas are faced with similar challenges. They need a caring hand to connect them to supports, and in turn, lead to their individual success.

Dradon continues to motivate our group to serve the at-risk youth and young adults of Lethbridge. His vision was to use music to allow others to understand that they were not alone. We are dedicated to keeping Dradon’s namesake and passion alive. We have come together to change the cycle of our system, ensuring no other youth gets lost through the cracks like Dradon and K.J.

Dra’s Angels was formed in December 2019 to learn more about our community and make a positive social change. Our goal is to build and develop a collaborative approach to end unemployment, homelessness, and death in our most vulnerable populations.

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