notMYkid: Helping Teens Fight Destructive Behavior

by RaeAnne Marsh

Nonprofits_NotMyKid_1NotMYkid conveys its message and programs to help youth deal with life-challenging stresses, which include addiction and bullying, by employing those who can connect best with its targeted audience — young people who have suffered but then combatted the problem themselves. Its staff includes about 40 young men and women who have at least one year in recovery and have completed training in one or more of the specialized programs. Paying them is “our way of changing their lives and giving them support in their recovery,” says notMYkid co-founder Debbie Moak. Peer-to-peer counseling is a big part of the broad program notMYkid offers in its work with schools throughout Arizona and even nationwide.

The organization’s annual budget is about $1.6 million, and it expects to raise $350,000 at next month’s gala. “Every dollar contributed goes to program,” Moak says, noting that the gala is supported almost entirely by donation, from the venue to the refreshment to the raffle prizes — exclusive vacation packages from Discovery Land Company worth about $10,000. The entire event is built around the five exciting vacation locations, with food, drinks and vignettes to evoke the atmosphere of being there. Held at the Virginia G. Piper Sports and Fitness Center on April 25, the gala will run from 7 p.m. to midnight.


  • Debbie and Steve Moak founded notMYkid in 1999 with addiction specialist Mark Harvey, M.D., after dealing with their son’s addiction. “We had learned a lot and had resources we wanted to make available to the community,” says Debbie Moak.
  • NotMYkid employs about 10 full-time and 40 part-time staff, with a basic approach of using peer-to-peer counseling to engage with troubled youth and then connecting them and their family with appropriate professional help.
  • In addition to early intervention, notMYkid offers education on six topics: substance abuse, bullying, Internet safety, safe relationships, eating disorders and depression.
  • The organization works with three segments of the community: kids in school (primarily middle and high school), parents and faculty. “We prefer to work with the school all year long,” Moak says. Its comprehensive program is four peer-to-peer presentations (school chooses which four of the six topics), two parent education programs and one faculty education program.

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