Jennie was a shy, thoughtful girl when she first came to Covenant House Vancouver. She has been living on and off the streets since she was 10, and had attended over 20 elementary schools by grade eight. When Jennie turned 19, she left the foster care system and had no place to go. She was referred to Covenant House and said “Covenant House was the first place I’ve ever lived that I was safe and nobody could hurt me here. It’s the first place that I’ve ever felt that kind of sense of belonging, it’s the first place I’ve ever had a home.”
Jennie stayed in our Crisis Program and worked incredibly hard. Having such an interrupted education, Jennie had difficulty reading, so one of our volunteers helped her learn. Though she had never taken drugs herself, Jennie understands why street youth do. She says “a lot of times there’s mental illness and addictions and different things that happen on the streets because when you’re in that much pain, you try to find a way to numb the pain and by doing that, you dig yourself in a little deeper.”
After stabilizing in our Crisis Program, Jennie moved to our transitional living program, Rights of Passage (ROP) where she truly found her voice. Learning to self-advocate and assert herself were life-skills Jennie desperately needed and ROP was the perfect place for her to learn. Jennie became an active and strong member of the ROP community, challenging staff at every turn when she thought the rules were too tough or the curfew too early.
In retrospect, Jennie is grateful for what Covenant House provided saying “I was scared; everybody had kinda turned away and I just figured they’d turn away too. I didn’t really expect help because I didn’t think anybody would be there or care, and I found the exact opposite, I found that they didn’t just open up their doors to me, but they opened up their hearts.”
Jennie found a fantastic job in the “helping people” field and after graduating from ROP; she really wanted to “give back” to Covenant House so she volunteered to help our Development & Communications department by giving speeches at donor events or doing media interviews. A while back, Jennie agreed to do an interview on a local talk radio show, so our media person, Michelle arranged to pick her up and take her to the station as it was an early morning call.
On the way to the station, Michelle was complaining about the weather – it was yet another rainy Vancouver morning. Jennie surprised Michelle when she said that she actually found the rain very comforting. She said that when she was little and would run away from unsafe homes, “nobody ever ran after me when it was raining.”
It’s painful to even imagine the kind of childhood that Jennie had, let alone experience it – she was sexually abused, neglected and she never heard the words “I love you.” Coming to Covenant House marked the beginning of a whole new life for Jennie and she is grateful to you, our donors, for your support of young people like herself.
“I’d like to thank all the donors out there because it’s always been an amazing thing to me that people donate to this cause; it’s amazing because they’ll never know the names, or the stories or the young people they’ve helped, but they’ve made all the difference in the world.”
Today, you have the opportunity to help more young people like Jennie by making a donation to Covenant House. If you make your donation before June 30th, a generous matching donor will match all gifts received, up to $100,000.
Please give generously and know that any amount you’re able to give will make a difference.