Mary came to Covenant House in need of support as she was fleeing the street life, was alone and didn’t know where to turn. When looking at Mary, you could see the pain behind her blue eyes. On the outside, she tried to put a smile on her face to convince us she was okay, but on the inside we knew she was struggling. Mary stayed in our Crisis Program five times over a year and every time she arrived she looked more and more lost in her addiction. We supported her in very unconventional ways in the Crisis Program to get her to detox or treatment and often worried whether she would make it to her next birthday. When Mary stayed with us she was always full of optimism and seemed to want to get her life back on track but for each step she took forward, she seemed to take 10 steps back. For Mary, this is how she had lived her life for many years and at the young age of only 21 she had experienced more pain than most people could ever imagine.
The last time that we saw Mary she was scheduled to go to treatment however, the night before she was meant to leave she didn’t come back to the Crisis Program. She disappeared and we didn’t know where she had gone. We hoped she was doing well and had followed her dreams but we just didn’t know.
Recently while I was crossing the street right in front of the shelter I looked up and made eye contact with a girl who was also crossing the street. As our eyes met, I immediately knew it was Mary. She recognized me right away said hello and waked with me to the side of the street. She looked beautifully healthy, vibrant and happy. When I asked her how she was feeling she beamed with pride while she shared with me that she had been clean for almost 4 months, was living on her own, taking care of herself and was feeling great. She went on to thank Covenant House Vancouver for helping her when she needed it the most and let me know that if it wasn’t for us she wasn’t sure that she would have made it. She was so appreciative of everything we did to support her and kept thanking me during our conversation. I let her know that we were glad to be part of her journey and thanked her for the update and let her know that we were just thinking about her. She acted surprised that we were thinking of her and wanted me thank the other youth workers on her behalf. As we said our goodbyes I reminded her to stop by anytime to say hello.
Sometimes we never know how we have helped someone but today was an example of how opening our hearts and shelter to this young woman meant more to her than we ever knew.