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Could it happen to you?

Imagine a young woman, working hard but still living pay cheque to pay cheque and then a recession, and you're laid off and your car is stolen.

This is exactly what happened to Shay Kelley.

Although this story takes place in the United States, it could easily have taken place anywhere in Canada. So many people live pay cheque to pay cheque and if something were to happen, an illness, a job loss they could easily be homeless. It has been said, that many people in Canada are just two pay cheques away from homelessness.  Many of us are blessed with family and friends who would help but some people are not that fortunate.

I hope this story inspires you to look at homeless people differently and with compassion because we rarely know the whole story behind the person on the street and what brought them there.


Bocci Furniture raises $22,500

Vancouver design house Bocci held their first-ever warehouse sale, causing quite a stir for those who love their cutting-edge lighting and furniture designs. While the sale was notable on its own, the staff at Bocci chose to donate 50% of the sale proceeds to Covenant House Vancouver!

Bocci is committed to fostering a healthy and cooperative environment among their staff members and beyond, to the community in which they work. Covenant House is grateful for Bocci Vancouver's hard work on our behalf - they raised $22,500 in less than two days!  Thank you Bocci.

Mark Savard, Development Officer, Community Giving receives cheque from Bocci's Erin Challoner

Moving Out

Tracey, one of our mental health clinicians, shared a wonderful story about a young man who was moving into a supported living unit; she met with him to determine his list of “household items to acquire”.   Many of the items this young man identified were necessities like pans, a hot plate, coffee maker, household cleaner, mop & broom, dish rack etc.

When Tracey explained his reasoning for some of the other items on his list, it was a bit heartbreaking, realizing how much most of us take for granted.
Below is his list of "items to acquire" with an explanation of why he wanted them:

  •  Polysporin (it is good for everything)
  •  Yoga mat (our youth get free classes on Fridays courtesy of YYOGA)
  •  Scent spray (the building he was moving into sometimes smells)
  •  Anything “gold” in colour (he loves gold)
  •  Glow in the darks, aka “glow sticks” (he is nervous of the dark)
  •  Mirror (so he can look at himself and remind himself that he is doing a good job)

When most of us venture out on our own, we aren’t coping with a mental health issue and many of us get a lot of “stuff” from our parents – old furniture, or better yet, they buy us everything we need to get started. We are fortunate that our donor community gives so much to us – food, clothing and household items are appreciated by our youth.  Click here for a list of items we collect for our youth.

Our youth clothing room

To matter

Stewart lived with his Mother until he was six, at which time he moved to a reserve to be with his stepfather. Unfortunately, Stewart's stepfather was an alcoholic who became extremely abusive when he had been drinking. Despite the fact that Stewart was an excellent student (he graduated from high school), his stepfather placed unrealistic and often unattainable expectations upon Stewart and would be quite vicious if Stewart didn't meet his demands. For punishment, Stewart was beaten, then put into his room for days.

Stewart says that the years of abuse left him feeling as though he had "lost his courage", unable to stand up for himself. Stewart often worries about the needs of others rather than his own because he grew up believing that he "doesn't matter". Stewart left his stepfather's house when he was a young teenager and went to live with his grandfather. It was around that time that he started using drugs and alcohol to retreat further into himself and to numb the pain from the memories of his abusive past.

Eventually Stewart moved to Vancouver and got mixed up with illegal (and dangerous) activities. Though Stewart has since left that world, he continues to fear for his safety. Stewart came to Covenant House where staff encouraged him to confront his addiction and to begin counselling to heal from the wounds of his past. Now, Stewart works full time and struggles every day with the urge to drink and smoke pot and he has relapsed a few times. Though the counselling process is painful for Stewart as he questions why his stepfather was so cruel, he is persevering and is slowly beginning to trust our staff enough to express his tears and pain.

Stewart may relapse again as he continues on his journey of healing as this is a natural occurrence for those trying to overcome an addiction. But Stewart knows that we are always here for him and will continue to accompany him as he moves forward in his life. Our heart breaks for the little Stewart who suffered so much abuse and we are so proud of the young adult Stewart who is rediscovering his courage and trying to believe that he does matter.



Streets of Plenty - a review

A youth worker friend of mine told me about this documentary "Streets of Plenty" by Misha Kleider and Cory Ogilvie. It chronicles the journey of Misha, a student that decides to give up everything and live on the streets for one month in December.

In my opinion, the documentary and Misha Kleider present an overly simplistic view of the Downtown Eastside and being homeless. At the start of this film he feels most homeless are just scamming the system because they are too lazy to work. As movie goes along and he experiences more of the streets and gets more rundown, he comes to a different opinion of homeless people and the streets in general.

The movie does bring up some thought provoking points and was approached and filmed in an interesting way. It's worth a look as it does provoke dialogue especially since Misha makes some very poor choices.
Be forewarned, Misha does try hard drugs in this movie and it was a very silly and irresponsible thing to do. Also there is a lot of swearing and other actions you may find offensive.

Click here to view the film.

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