At the MPTC Award Gala in September 2014, Lexi Dearborn received the 180 Degree Award for the teen who has done the most to turn her life around. “I cried in front of hundreds of people,” Lexi jokes as she recalls the moment when she received the award.
Lexi admits that as a young teen living in Kennebunk, she spent time getting into trouble with her friends, though she liked school well enough. That changed when she and her mom moved to Westbrook, where her high school experience was not good and she ended up dropping out. Lexi started coming to the teen center to hang out and volunteer.
She notes that Donna Dwyer had a strong, positive influence on her from the start. “Donna liked my work, but she was not ok with the fact that I wasn’t going to school and that I was going down the wrong path,” Lexi says. They made a pact that led Lexi to earn her Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED), gain confidence, making lots of new friends in the process.
“I wasn’t helping anyone,” Lexi says of the time before she found MPTC. “Now that I’ve helped myself, I can help others. I like being a role model.”
Lexi is now a staff member at MPTC, providing homework help, working on social and life skills, playing games, and helping new kids feel at home. She feels that the most important thing she and the staff do is helping teens find their own voice and solve their own problems. “I love connecting with and caring for people,” says Lexi. “I like showing the older kids how to turn [their lives] around. Once you start, it just clicks.”
Lexi says one of her career goals is to be like her mom, Tina, who is MPTC’s Director of Operations. “I like to stay busy.”
“MPTC kept me out of trouble and got me to finish my education,” says Lexi. “Today, I feel like a completely different person.”