Written by Tom Knighton
Being a teenager is tough. Now, former Marine seeks to make it a bit easier through his blog, called Devil Dog’s Life. “Devil Dawg’s Life is a site that serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it is a site where youth can come and read about real life issues and how to deal with them,” says Steve Owens, who runs the site. Teens who visit the site can submit questions, which Owens will then try to answer them.
Owens keeps any contact information secret in an effort to keep the individual’s identity secret. A teen can submit a question and Owens will respond the next day in a post on the site. “If it is something that is an emergency and the youth needs a question answered right then… they can post it in the form that it is an emergency and I will respond immediately within an hour,” says Owens
Some may wonder why the kids don’t just go to their parents. Owens says, “Some kids out there live in a broken home. Either they have no father or they have no mother. Some kids have parents that they cannot talk to because the parents are so wrapped up with their own lives. Then you have some kids out there who are afraid of talking to their parents because they are afraid of the reaction from the parents.”
For many people that would be enough. After all, being a teen is difficult enough, and someone who you can ask your questions to anonymously is a tremendous help. For Owens though, that’s not nearly enough. Owens uses the site to fundraise for teens who have been injured or have been diagnosed with medical conditions. The funds go through a PayPal account that goes straight into bank accounts for the kids. Owens doesn’t touch a penny. “This is all set up by myself as well as the family of the youth in need. Devil Dawg’s Life receives no money from this. It is all about the kids and their needs,” Owens said.
Owens recounted two of the teens he has helped through the site. “One particular that I keep up with is Brooklyn Parrish, a Lee County student. She has a heart of gold and has to be the miracle child of Leesburg. Through the website, we were able to set up a store for tshirts, bracelets, and window decals. With the help of the website, over $2500 was raised for Brooklyn’s Trust Fund. That is a huge impact and has helped the Parrish family with travel back and forth from Shands Hospital in Gainsville, Florida.”
Another is Parrish’s Lee County classmate, Nick Widner. Widner was diagnosed with cancer, and the frequent trips to Atlanta for treatment has reportedly been a drain on the family. “Fundraising efforts have been set up for Nick and that includes a trust fund for him on Devil Dawg’s Life,” said Owens.
The site is dedicated to fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Steve Sutton. “I had the priviledge to meet the wife and father of Lance Corporal Steve Sutton,” said Owens. “I asked permission to dedicate the site in honor of Steve and they gladly granted the request. Once a Marine…Always a Marine.”
“This is a service that is free to our youth and I am doing this to make a difference in our future leaders of tomorrow. If I can impact one child and help them with a life changing decision to go down the right path, then the site is doing exactly what I intended it to do,” Owens said about his efforts on the site, which only gets income via a donation button on the page, which is completely voluntary.
Owens says he feels that it’s imperative that someone be there for many of the young people in the community. “There are alot of parents out there that are passive at what their kids are involved in and that becomes a problem. There are parents out there that do not care or are too busy in their lives to notice what their kids are involved in. It is time that someone takes a stand and shows these youth of today that there is someone out there that cares about them,” he says. “It is also time for the youth of today to know that parents will not tolerate insubordination and disrespect. The message I have to all parents out there…be active in your child’s life. Do not pass up the opportunity to teach them the true values of life. Do not accept anything but full respect and honor from your children. One day, they will thank you for it and it will make them respect you even more.”
“I welcome parents to the site as well. They too can submit questions or comments on the site and I will blog about questions that they have as well. Time to take the stand and lead our children to a successful path of tomorrow! Semper Fidelis is my motto and mentoring our youth is my calling,” Owens said, pointing out that his site isn’t just for kids. “Thank you again Albany Journal for taking the time to get the movement of devildawgslife.com out there to the public.”