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Walking with the Outreach Team

Last night was my first experience doing outreach with Covenant House. I work in the Development and Communications department as a Donations Administrator so I don't really get to see all the front line stuff.

We started out by visiting a few of our youth at St.Paul's Hospital in the mental health ward. One young gentleman brought out his art portfolio that he has been working on, and proudly showed us his latest sketches. It was also a joy to see his face light up at the thought of displaying a few of his pieces in the art room at Pender. I got to sit with this young man and one of our outreach workers and witness the rapport between the two. The youth worker interacted extremely well with the youth and knew the exact questions to ask him and how to respond. The youth seemed very comfortable telling us about himself, his past, his illness and his plans for the future.

Next we went to visit a youth who recently left our shelter and is now living in an apartment and doing quite well. He was very happy to see us and told us all about his day and about the support groups he was attending. It was great to hear him say such nice things about Covenant House and about how much we helped him when he was staying in our shelter. He even has a picture of the Covenant House sign on his front door so that every time he leaves his home he thinks of us and all the things we did to help him.

The rest of the night we spent going around to a few SRO's handing out sandwiches and juice boxes to our youth and checking to make sure everyone was doing well. One young man had just moved in to his room that very day and was sitting all alone in the dark. It turns out that there were no working light bulbs in his room. Without hesitation one of the youth workers took it upon himself to fix the situation. We went down to the manager of the building and reported the problem, then went out to the van and grabbed some light bulbs for the youth. This particular youth was such a nice, quiet guy that he probably would have sat all night in the dark without asking for help.

Doing this shadow shift with our outreach program really helped change my perspective on our youth, our youth workers and Covenant House in general. Although I know of the good the youth workers do each and every day, it really opened my eyes to what it is like to really be in their shoes. I really give them credit for getting out there and interacting with our youth on the streets, in the hospitals or their homes and giving them hope for the future. It also helped to solidify my beliefs in CHV and reinforced my reasons for being a part of it!


Disordered Eating affects Street Youth

I have attached an article on disordered eating for everyone. In some way, shape or form regardless of what department you work in, we are all affected by disordered eating here at Covenant House. For the last year this has been a fairly hot topic so when I read this article I thought many of you might appreciate it.

Often the focus is on how little or how much a person is eating. Therapeutically this is not where the focus lies and it sometimes is confusing when quantity is not the primary focus for a client who has disordered eating. This article defines all the various eating disorders, the concerns and causes and it explains the process of healing.

I encourage you all to have a read and if you have any questions or feedback please feel free to leave a comment.




BC Lowest Minimum Wage in Canada- Affects the Poor and Homeless

Imagine you are a young person struggling to get off the streets. You take the right steps by getting help for your addictions, get counselling and learn job and life skills. You are staying in a shelter or maybe on a friend's couch, and you have been working hard to find a job and you do!

Your job pays minimum wage but you are just happy to be off the streets, working and starting over. Now imagine your weekly pay is $320.00 before taxes, your monthly pay is about $1280.00 before taxes. Now imagine trying to live off of that amount of money...think of rent, food and transportation. Even if you have a roommate and live in a cheaper place (pretty hard to find in Vancouver) you are probably spending around $450-$500 on rent, bus pass at least $100, food and basic necessities $200 and other bills at least $100.00.

So just to live you probably need at least a $1000.00 a month and that is bare bones.

That is what so many of your youth face every day. BC has so many young people and families that are the working poor. People working full time jobs but just barely getting by and hardly ever getting ahead. Having the lowest minimum wage in Canada is unacceptable - we live in one of the most high cost areas and our minimum wage has not gone up for years even though the cost of living continues to increase. This greatly affects all of us - please make a stand for a higher minimum wage to benefit all of us in BC.


Crystal meth and mental illness plague street youth

Andy had been coming to us on and off for about two years. The last time he came he had recently stopped using crystal meth and he looked better than we had ever seen him.

We did an intake and though he was off the meth, he appeared to be
seriously mentally ill. He would talk for 20 minutes and you couldn't
understand a word he said. But he was willing to "go through all the
hoops" like waiting to see a psychiatrist and taking medication.

Andy decided that he needed to go to Miracle Valley Treatment
(for his addictions). After three months he came back a much healthier
Andy and we didn't see any of the mental health stuff going on. We came
to the conclusion that it had been the crystal meth that was causing
his psychosis
(it is common for street youth to still display psychosis even six
months after using crystal meth and some suffer permanent brain
damage). Andy is one of the lucky ones as he has recovered from his
crystal meth addiction and the resulting psychosis.

While at the shelter, Andy found a job and was accepted into ROP.
When he left for ROP, Andy had the hugest smile on his face. He was so
happy, so relieved. He was joking with us and was so excited about this
new opportunity.

As a youth worker I wanted to celebrate, because there were so many
situations that were not looking good for Andy and now he is doing so
awesome. I really enjoyed working with him especially because of all
the willingness he put forth and that is why I do my job.


Blast from a past ROP (Rights of Passage) resident

i live'd in covey in vancouver b.c. n then moved into there rop program i lived there for 1n a hlf yrs its was a good experiance and gave me the tools i needed to achieve the level of sucess i have acheived today!!!! even though i was evetually dicharged from the program the skills i learned in the time there has greatly advanced my life to a positive forefront... i currently have achived my red seal as a chef i have my daughter for the summers and am expecting my 2 nd child with my new wife who i have been married to for 1 yr but known for 11 yrs.... witout the staff at rop vancouver (rob & eyvonne ecspially!!! love u guys) i do not think i would have acheived anywhere close to my current accomplishments or be alive for that matter i only hope that you can continue to help at risk youth who were as hopeless as i was

yours truly
Kevin (name changed to protect privacy of youth)

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