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Joshua felt the staff at Covenant House cared about him unconditionally despite his addiction

When I first began working at Covenant House one of the first youth that I started working with was a 22 year-old young man named “Joshua”. Joshua was a very kind and polite young man that struggled with very serious addiction issues. When I first met Joshua I found it hard to believe that he struggled with addiction issues, as he loved sports, was well put together, and was very ambitious in reaching his goals.

As I got to know Joshua, I came to understand that his younger years were a very difficult and painful time for him. Addiction was a prominent issue within his family after his mother passed away when he was a young teenager. He disclosed his mother had been sick with a terminal illness and his brother and himself had to grow up faster than most boys their age. Joshua also mentioned that his mother’s illness was very difficult on his father and he often was not emotionally available to Joshua or his brother. One day Joshua disclosed to me that his father started drinking after his mother passed away and would often take out his pain on him and his older brother. Joshua stated that his brother took on the role of his father, even though his older brother was young and not much older than himself. Being that his older brother was his caregiver and role model, Joshua began to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Joshua’s brother began to experiment with different drugs and because Joshua did not want to be left behind he started trying drugs too. Before Joshua knew it he could not find employment, support himself, or cope with everyday life because of his heavy drug use.

Joshua came to Covenant House for support with getting into a long term treatment center. Joshua’s stay at Covenant House was difficult because he would be sober for a couple weeks and then go back to using. During his stays with Covenant House, Joshua struggled with his sobriety and there was always a fear that he would not come back to the Crisis Program and we would find out he had overdosed. Finally, after months of ups and downs, Joshua got into treatment. I could not have been happier for him as he so badly wanted to address his addiction issues and move on with his life. Sadly, after just one week Joshua left treatment and last we heard he was heavily using and not doing well. Although it is so difficult to hear that a youth is not doing well, as a youth worker one has to accept that it is the youth’s choice and we can only be there when the youth is ready to change.

Over the next few months Joshua would come to Covenant House to use the Community Support Services Drop-In space for food. When Joshua came in he looked terrible. He had lost a lot of weight, was living on the streets, or staying in an unhealthy environment with his brother. Again, I was waiting for news that he had passed from an overdose.

Many months later I was doing some work in the community when I heard someone yelling my name. At first I did not know who this person was calling my name, until I realized it was Joshua. He looked amazing! He had gained weight and looked clear and alert. Frantically he began to tell me he had been clean for three months, had his own place, and was working full-time.  Joshua began to thank me and the staff in Covenant House for always believing in him. Joshua said that if it was not for the Crisis Program and the Community Support Services program he would not have got clean. Joshua stated that despite not feeling a lot love from his own family, he always felt the staff at Covenant House cared about him unconditionally, no matter what stage of his addiction he was in. As a youth worker I often do not get to follow up on how the youth are doing once they leave the program. There are times when I wonder how they are doing and hope the best for them. Thankfully, in this youth’s case he chose to turn his life around and he is now doing well. 

Quote about addiction 

Experiencing Covenant House New York’s Sleep Out: Broadway Edition

Recently I was lucky enough to attend the Covenant House New York’s Sleep Out: Broadway Edition. 74 Broadway actors, actress, vocalists, musicians and production staff slept out at Covenant House New York in support of homeless youth. The Broadway stars brought an amazing energy to the Sleep Out. Everybody was excited and very connected to the work that Covenant House does, many had personal connections to the cause and could relate to the issues surrounding homelessness.

Before the Broadway Sleepers headed outside young people shared stories about how they became homeless and how Covenant House had helped them. They shared their personal journeys, their ups and downs and talked about how they are doing now. The Broadway group thanked the youth for sharing their stories by singing Amazing Grace. The rendition was emotional, amazing and chilling all at once. Their beautiful voices could be heard loud and clear and sent a powerful message of support to the youth.

Although the evening started off warm as New York was experiencing a heat wave, at 4am it started to rain and no one could escape what it really feels like to be homeless and sleeping outside. The next morning people were cold, exhausted and feeling very emotional. Many left wondering how anyone could live like this and survive. After an emotional wrap up the Broadway Sleepers headed back to their regular lives but were deeply changed by the experience. Together they raised a combined total of $270,000 to help homeless youth in New York and across America.

Here in Vancouver we are currently preparing for our Sleep Out: Executive Edition. If you are an Executive, CEO or notable person and you are interested in Sleeping Out and raising critical funds for Covenant House Vancouver please contact Jackie Leonard at or 604-639-8912. 

Broadway Sleep Out in New York Pictures


ROP Rooftop Art Night

Recently Rights of Passage had a rooftop art night led by a resident as part of their leadership life skills training.  The young person did a great job organizing & leading a fun and creative evening. 

Check out some of the great artwork!

Youth art night

Youth led art night

Youth created art work  

Structure is one of our five core principels

Structure  - Street life is very unstructured. Young people on the street never know where they will sleep or how they will get their next meal. We provide the structure and stability of legitimate and carefully articulated expectations without a lot of rules and regulations. This helps alleviate anxiety and allows them to focus on planning their next steps.

You can  provide  structure and stability  to a  young person.  Donate  Now

Structure is one of our five core principels 


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