Last night, 64 young professionals and emerging leaders slept outside in solidarity with the hundreds of young people who call Vancouver’s streets home, to raise funds for youth who struggle with mental illness and addictions. The top fundraiser, Adam Spear, President, Humble Manufacturing Co. Ltd, raised $13,850. The Sleep Out is first and foremost a peer-to-peer fundraising event but it is also an opportunity for people to get a glimpse into what it is like for homeless youth – alone with no where to sleep and no place to call home.
Notable participants included:
Several corporate teams also took part and the top three and their totals were:
Allan Financial: $24,499
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: $21,428
Fusion Projects: $20,660
The evening began with the participants getting to know each other and touring our female Crisis Program and Drop-In Centre. A panel consisting of Covenant House youth and staff shared their knowledge and experience about homelessness, mental illness and addictions. The young people on our panel also shared their personal stories and explained how they found their way to our doors, and how their lives have changed since.
After waking up this morning (many didn’t get much sleep), the participants took part in a group reflection exercise, describing what the experience meant to them. Several people used the words “humbled” and “gratitude” when reflecting on the evening. The majority of participants were going off to work for the day and many said they couldn’t imagine doing that day after day having had such unrestful sleep – the realization that this is the reality for many of our youth was eye-opening.
Our heartfelt thanks to all of our sleepers and their supporters! We hope to see you all back next year!
There is still time to support the Sleep Out: Young Professionals - click here to donate.
Tonight young professionals and emerging leaders will spend one night sleeping on the street to raise funds to support our mental health and addictions programs. Many of our youth struggle with mental illness, often as a result of trauma they have experienced, and many are also battling to overcome addictions.
“Sleepers” will interact with some of our youth currently staying with us and those who have stayed with us in the past. They will hear their personal stories of how they found their way to our doors and how their lives have changed since. Youth will also have the opportunity to ask the participants why they support Covenant House and why they are Sleeping Out.
Be sure to join in the discussion on social media using the hash tag #CHSleepOut. You can follow Covenant House Vancouver on Twitter @CovenantHouseBC, on Instagram @covenanthousebc or on our Facebook page. Be sure to tune in for our first Facebook Live Video tonight.
Big thank you to all our “Sleepers” and their supporters!
I work the night shift in the female Crisis Program and one night I received a phone call from a past resident called Cassie that really sticks in my mind. I remember when Cassie first came to Covenant House; she always seemed very withdrawn and seemed to find it difficult to approach staff. She really kept to herself as much as possible and didn't interact much with the other youth. Over time she appeared to become more and more comfortable and began to open up about her situation. At the time she was struggling with alcohol addiction and was really trying not to drink. Her parents also struggled with the same addiction so she felt that if she stayed there it would be too difficult for her to stop drinking. Her plan in Covenant House was centered on her sobriety and she was given a lot of supports around this.
She attended all her meetings and seemed to be doing really well. She went to her Daytox group every day. Over time she seemed to come out of her shell more and more each day. She began playing card games with the other youth in the evenings and started to smile and laugh a lot more. She started to build really positive relationships with the staff and with the other youth. She was a very caring person and would often have kind words or a supportive gesture for another youth if they had a bad day. But she still remained focused on her own plan. The days turned into months and I remember the night she proudly told us that she was four months sober that day. She was smiling from ear to ear.
It was around that time that Cassie started talking to staff about feeling ready to move on from the Crisis Program. She spoke about moving to live with her aunt. She said she felt worried about this as she was concerned that she might not be able to maintain her sobriety in a new city and away from the supports she had come to rely on in Covenant House. However she said she also felt that she needed to test herself in the real world and that she had to prove to herself that she could do this. We advised her not to make any rash decisions and that she was welcome here as long as she needed. We reminded her that she could always come back here if she felt she needed support in the future.
Cassie decided she was ready to move on. She phoned a few days later to say that her decision to stay with her aunt felt like the right move for her. After that we didn't hear anything more from her for a few months until she phoned one evening to update us on her situation. She sounded so upbeat and happy on the phone saying that things were going really well for her. She said she had continued to go to meetings and that she was one year sober. She said she was working in the local store and told us that she even had a car now. She seemed particularly proud of that! She said she had moved in to an apartment with friends near her aunt's place. She thanked us all for being there for her and supporting her when she needed a safe place to stay so she could get her addiction under control. I remember that that phone call just made me smile for the rest of the night. She had worked so hard to turn her life around, attending all her meetings, going to all her counselling sessions and keeping herself busy with healthy activities like swimming and jogging. I was so pleased for her that all her hard work had paid off and that she seemed so happy.
We wanted to take the time give some love to all our supporters in honour of Valentine’s Day. The generosity we see from our Covenant House family never fails to amaze us. Thanks to your kindness & support, we as a team are able to support our young people throughout their journey towards independence. You are impacting the lives of so many youth, and for that we thank you with the warmest of hearts.
We also want to send lots of love to all our young people, you bring so much joy to us and we are honoured to be part of your lives.
Happy Valentine’s Day!