Justin’s journey leads him to a job he loves…

Leaving work today, I was surprised to see Justin, a youth I had worked with a few months ago, at our Shelter reception with a friend. He had come by to pick up some paperwork he had left here, and was also showing his friend, who just arrived from out of town, where he used to stay.

Justin grew up in Chilliwack, but he has lived all over B.C. and Alberta. Justin’s father died when he was young, and he was raised by his God-Mother, who sadly took her own life earlier this year.  Justin had been diagnosed a few years ago with anxiety and depression, but Justin felt that this burden was his alone to deal with, so was reluctant to seek help.

Justin was most recently living in Kelowna, but was having trouble finding work, so decided to give it a try in Vancouver. Justin loved cooking, and would speak passionately about food, but found it hard getting a job as he lacked experience. He was also worried that people wouldn’t want to hire him because he had “too many tattoos”.  

Justin’s anxiety also made it difficult for him to contact employers to ask for a job. He would get very nervous just at the idea of dropping off a resume. Despite the obstacles, Justin actually found a couple of jobs quite quickly in restaurants, but never held them for very long.  Eventually, Justin’s persistence paid off and he got a job as a prep cook in one of the downtown restaurants. You could see the excitement and pride in his eyes when he talked about this job, as he clearly loved what he was doing.

After saving a bit of money, Justin was able to leave the Crisis Shelter and move in with a friend. Like many of our youth who move on, I think of them from time to time and wonder how they’re doing. That’s why I was so happy that Justin stopped by and let me know he was doing well, and was living successfully in a shared apartment. He told me to say hello to his other workers, and said that while shelter living was not always easy for him, he was grateful to us for being there for him when he needed. He introduced me to his friend, who had just arrived from out of town, and said he was helping him out, so he would never need to stay in a shelter himself, but he wanted his friend to know about us, in case he ever needed help.

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