Today when I went up to our Drop-In to refill the coffee canister for our Shelter youth, I heard a youth call my name…”Hey Jaclyn…what’s going on?” It was a youth I had known for nearly 4 years named Brad. He no longer accesses our Shelter but frequents our Drop-In for hot meals, clothing and other supports on a regular basis. Brad has had a long history at CHV and with the Shelter and his stays were often challenging.
Brad was quite involved with the street culture here in Vancouver. Drug use and mental health concerns were a few of the challenges that Brad faced on a day to day basis. He often struggled in Shelter because of this, and his stays were never very long…usually just a few days before he would leave for the streets again. Underneath Brad’s tough and sometimes gruff exterior was a creative, witty and talented young man who longed to belong to a “normal life” in contrast to his tumultuous and unpredictable experiences with his family (especially his mom).
I would often sit with him when he was in Shelter and we would talk often about music, which was a passion of Brad’s. This type of interaction with Brad was not common with most staff in Shelter as he was always very guarded and selective about who he would open up to…even in the slightest of interactions. Through Brad’s stays, he often spoke about wanting to return to school to learn a trade but often was distracted by the outside world and street life so this goal continued to get pushed to the side.
The day that I saw Brad I remember how healthy he looked. He shared with me that he had been clean for 2 weeks and it really did show. I complemented Brad on this accomplishment and joked around with him that another perk of being clean off of drugs was that he was much more pleasant to talk to! Brad laughed at this joke and reluctantly agreed with me. During our conversation Brad shared that he was finally following through with his goal of getting his trades certificates. He was so proud of himself about this feat.
At the end of our conversation I wished Brad the best of luck with his program and encouraged him to stay focused on his goal and returned downstairs…coffee pot in hand. A few weeks later as I wrote this story, a staff member from the Drop-In came into the Shelter office asking if the Shelter has ever helped Brad get ID as he was upstairs looking for support with this. I laughed at the timing of this request and advised him of what I knew. I took this opportunity to ask this staff member if Brad had finished his trades certificates. To my delight, I found out that he in fact did and was currently looking for work. This was really nice to hear and I hope that Brad continues on this path into his future.