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 I remember when Cassie first came to Covenant House; she always seemed very withdrawn and seemed to find it difficult to approach staff.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.