One of the services we offer to the youth here at Covenant House is “Brief Services”; they take place at our Drake reception area. Brief Services provide youth not currently in Shelter with warm soup, dry socks and personal hygiene products. We have a chance to talk with the youth and in some cases it is just a quick hello, and we tell them to stay safe and away they go. Other times youth want to spend some time talking and sharing as they stand at the counter eating their soup and warming up.
It was on a cold night that a male who had come in a few times before and is generally one of the just a quick hi and stay safe kind of youth, appeared to want to chat more than usual. As he stood their eating his soup he started to talk about the weather and how cold it is outside. He went on to tell me how much he really appreciated the hot soup and that this was the first hot meal he had eaten in days. He stated that he had moved to Vancouver a few months ago and was out of money and he indicated that he would really like to go home but didn’t know how he could manage that. He had not talked to his mom in a few weeks and was feeling sad. I spoke with the Team Leader on shift and it was decided we would help the youth to call home and talk to his mom. When he got off the phone he had a renewed sense of emotions. His mom was going to try and get him an airline ticket home. He asked me if there was any way he could possibly call his mom another time to work out the ticket home. I gave him the number and drop in times for Community Support Service (Drop-In & Outreach) and told him that they would be able to assist him with this.
A few nights later the youth came back into Drake reception and stated that he was flying home to Ontario the next day and wanted to know if he could get clean socks and underwear, which we were happy to provide. This youth then thanked Covenant House for being here and stated that we have no idea how much we had assisted him. He stated that if he could one day he would repay us for the services; I informed the youth that this was not necessary but thanked him for his kind words. The youth then went on his way.
Providing Brief Services allows us to start the relationship building process with youth; often there is a short window of opportunity with young people and if we can help them right in that moment it can make a huge difference. What started with a warm bowl of soup & a phone call became an opportunity to have a young man reconnect with his mom and return home safely.