The right combination of embarrassed and loved!

One youth had a birthday while staying in Shelter. He has been staying at Covenant House Vancouver for several months and has been struggling with motivation lately. This youth is a really friendly, easy-going person and is the first to share a joke. Birthdays are emotional at the best of times but it can be especially difficult to spend a birthday in a homeless shelter and be reminded that you may not have any family or feel like anyone cares. Youth often ask for their birthday not to be mentioned for this reason. Staff need to be conscious of how a youth may react around their birthday and trust their instincts and the relationship they have built with a particular youth.

Even though this youth said he didn’t need a cake and not to worry about making a big deal about his birthday, he was greeted at the office with a very loud, obnoxious staff rendition of happy birthday and a card signed by everyone. He was also given some gift cards and birthday candy, in lieu of cake. This left him feeling just the right combination of embarrassed and loved! It is common for vulnerable youth not to be able to say thank you, however, this youth stated that he really appreciated what we had done for him and that the singing was great!

birthday wishes