My first impression of Sam was that he was an adventurous spirit. He’s always up for a new challenge, new learning opportunities, and always looking for ways to give back. When he first came to us in the Crisis Program, he had already identified that he wanted to join the Canadian Armed Forces.
He had a lot of self-awareness and knew that the structured environment of the Canadian Armed Forces would help him thrive. He wanted a career where he could be around people and constantly learn new things. Sam is also an extremely hard worker. Often he would work more than full-time hours or long shifts that involved working overnight.
Unfortunately, this sometimes meant that he would have less time to grocery shop and meal plan. This was a life skill he said he wanted to work on. When he first had to purchase groceries on his own, I remember him telling me he was mostly surviving on nuts, spinach, and protein shakes from the dollar store.
In our Rights of Passage Program (ROP), one of the things we ask residents to do is to volunteer to prepare Community Dinner, which happens once a month. There is no requirement that a resident has to do this, but Sam and his Youth Workers often joked that he would have to do it one day to prove he can cook for himself before he moves out.
During his whole time with us, he continued to apply for the Canadian Armed Forces. He got an interview and aced it. Then several months later, he very excitedly told me that he was accepted!
For his last week in ROP before his deployment for basic military qualification training, he volunteered to prepare Community Dinner. He demonstrated that he has some cooking skills. He prepared a salad, appetizer, and entrée (with some support) for over 15 ROP community members. It was absolutely delicious!
A few months after Sam left for military training, I heard from him that he passed! He had a hard time with the training, saying that it was grueling and intense. But he also described meeting a lot of new friends and learning more about himself. Although in the email he made it sound as though he barely passed, he also reported that he got the “Most Improved Award”. He is now officially part of the armed forces. This journey started many years ago, and is one that Covenant House was privileged to witness.
Shared by Sunnie, Registered Social Worker at Covenant House Vancouver