Have you ever met someone and known instantly you
were supposed to be a part of their life? Where you aren’t sure
of the how or the why, but you just know within the deepest parts
of your heart that your paths were meant to cross.
This is the start to My Drew Story…
When I met Drew at the age of 12 in an after-school program at
the YMCA, I was drawn to mentor the young girl presenting with
a tough, angry exterior hiding a sad, scared, lost self, deeply grieving the loss of her mother five years prior. She was in need of someone who could look beyond the anger and stand strong even when she would push you away. Someone who could believe in her ability to make something of her life and to connect to the hurt child trying to present as an independent adult. It didn’t take long to respond when her family asked me to take Drew in to live with me just over a year later. As a teenage girl, Drew was struggling in connecting with her father and was lacking structure and consistency in her life. She was transitioning into high school, was searching for her own identity,
and was adamant she knew it all.
Through her teen years, Drew challenged me on a regular basis.
There were moments I questioned if I was the right person to be
a support in her life. There were moments she fought the structure and stability, determined that she could do life on her own and that she didn’t need anyone. In each of those moments, I stayed constant, with the door open, an ear to listen, and a love for her in my heart. Today, I have two young children, but Drew knows she is always my oldest. Drew has grown to be a young mother, raising her own family, and working to help others access mental health services. Drew will tell you that I have provided her a safe and healthy place in this world and helped shape her and guide her to where she is today.
“You never gave up on me when I was at my worst and still
continue to guide me and give me advice, even when you
could have just let me go for being too difficult.”
For me, Drew’s Place was developed to support others in finding
their own way in life by providing an environment where the
individual can emotionally heal and grow. Where the door is open,
and the support can be structured and tough, but in a caring way.
It is a place where our team believes in our clients even when
they don’t believe in themselves.
Staci Bertagna, LCSW
Drew’s Place Owner
For those people who have impacted someone’s life so
greatly, people say, they knew from the moment they met them.
That statement is half true when it comes to Drew. I knew
Drew would be one of the most important people to ever walk
into my life, the second time I met him.
This is My Drew Story...
Andrew Mack was my best friend when he died. But long, long before that he was my high school buddy who I played football with, hung out with on the weekends, and maybe got into a little trouble with. We talked about meaningful parts of our lives and connected via our childhood struggles and that is where and how our friendship begun. Fast forward ten years and Drew had served two tours in Iraq as part of the infantry in the Army while I completed by Doctoral Degree in Clinician/Forensic Psychology. We lost touch during this time. Drew and I struggled, separately, and in our own ways. We reconnected after both of us, in our own separate ways, healed and worked through a lot of our struggles. When Drew walked back into my life,
we were different men who chose to embrace our past and use it to help others. We spoke about our goals, challenged each other to be better versions of ourselves trusted each other and loved each other like brothers do. Drew was the type of person who made sure you were ok, protected you, challenged you, and would literally take a bullet for you if he loved you and he loved a lot of people.
Drew served his country honorably, loved his country, and was
willing to die for his country. This is how he operated for the ones
he loved when he became a civilian again. He touched many people and left a lasting imprint on many hearts throughout the world. Despite his significant healing, Drew still struggled with some of
his demons. Drew coped with these issues by pouring himself into others and loving them unconditionally. Drew will be remembered
for the many amazing things he has done including earning his Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering after serving in the Army.
But I will remember him most of all for falling in love with women much too fast, being courageous, loving his friends and family
harder than humanly possible, his piercing eyes, and his incredibly large stature. He was and will always be a hero for what he did on
the battle field and even more for what he did afterwards.
He was a remarkable man and I love him dearly.
I strive to honor Drew every day by embracing my difficult past
and channeling it into a pathway to helping others who have yet
to be able to overcome their struggles. Drew’s Place is for those
like us, those that feel lost, afraid, or helpless.
Drew’s Place is a representation of Andrew Mack’s heart.
This is for you Drew. We lost you too soon dear friend. Rest easy.
Robert Francis, PsyD
Drew's Place Owner