On this day I was working as an intake worker, undergoing the procedure of intaking a new youth to Shelter. My second intake was a first timer to Covenant House Vancouver. She sat down in the office hunched over, wide-eyed and clearly uncomfortable. She had severe anxiety from living on the street, and literally had nothing but the clothes on her back. She had lost all of her identification and was suffering from some pressing medical concerns. Luckily, someone had referred her to Covenant House.
Jason had been staying at the Crisis Shelter for a few weeks and his goal was to get a job. After a successful interview Jason attended his first shift working in the kitchen of a very fast paced take away and dine-in restaurant on Granville Street. I was very eager to see how he had felt about his first shift.
One youth had a birthday while staying in Shelter. He has been staying at Covenant House Vancouver for several months and has been struggling with motivation lately. This youth is a really friendly, easy-going person and is the first to share a joke. Birthdays are emotional at the best of times but it can be especially difficult to spend a birthday in a homeless shelter and be reminded that you may not have any family or feel like anyone cares. Youth often ask for their birthday not to be mentioned for this reason.
Recently, in the Crisis Shelter, there was music in the air. A young man, “Kevin”, had returned to the Shelter after a short stay in the hospital. Kevin struggles with severe mental health so this stay in the hospital was necessary to keep Kevin safe for a few days and stabilize him more on his medication.
It was a busy Saturday night and a new cooking group had recently started in the Shelter. The weekly group had been run several times now and the youth were getting excited about the topic of the week; short bread cookies. As the youth made their way into the kitchen, I could see their excited grins. There were several youth in the kitchen and I was working alongside them to make the cookies. Some of the youth were more experienced than others and “Henry” was having a little more trouble mixing the dough. Getting discouraged, “Henry” muttered, “Oh, I’m horrible at baking!
I did Samantha’s first, second and third intake. She came to us from a First Nations reserve in another province. Samantha is a kind, caring person. She struggles with alcohol addiction and came to that realization through her relationship with Covenant House Vancouver.
So, I have never liked chess. I have avoided it for years, despite growing up with it around me, and many people looking at me in disbelief when I tell them I can’t play chess. One night one of the youth, David, asked me if I wanted to play. I agreed.
For "Jared", today was a tough day. It is welfare day, a day often fraught with many urges to buy and use drugs and/or alcohol. Today, many of Jared's friends are busy spending their money, using many substances and doing all they can to have everyone join in with them. On this day there is usually energy in the air as some of the youth in the shelter anticipate the mere $235.00 they will receive for the month from Income Assistance.
The day "Ryan" came to the Shelter I could tell that he was special. Ryan was very distant, made no eye contact, and insisted on eating by himself, despite several invitations to join us at the table for his meals. For days, Ryan would approach me to ask me for different things, but he never ever made eye contact with me.
Today one of our youth was having a very bad day and it seems like she is having a hard time dealing with some of the loss that she has recently experienced in her life. Today, all that grief and loss finally hit her, full on.