Not a lot of people know this, but hospital visits are very important in the work we do on the Outreach Team. There are countless times where I’ve come across a young person who was at the hospital alone with no connections to anyone that could care for or support them. In some hospital wings, these youth are not allowed to leave the building without an escort. And thus, without us dropping by to reach out, they wouldn’t even be able to step outside for a few minutes of sunshine.
One day, I was visiting St. Paul’s Hospital with a colleague on an Outreach shift. There was a young person we knew who was there. We wanted to stop by so we could give her a backpack of food and other essentials. Since we were already there, we asked one of the nurses if she knew of any other youth currently at the hospital who might also want a backpack of supplies. She mentioned that, in fact, there was—a 24-year-old young man named Edmond.
It turns out he was close by, because at the sound of his name he immediately called out asking us to come over to his bed. We introduced ourselves and he asked if we could take him up to the fourth-floor courtyard for a short walk. We happily agreed.
While out on our walk, Edmond seemed to be in high spirits and quickly opened up to us. He told me that he was currently homeless. Edmond had been at the hospital for three weeks now without having any visitors the whole time. He wasn’t connected to any resources currently, and by this point he was feeling a bit frustrated and lonely. We chatted a bit about what Covenant House was, and about some of the programs and services we offer. I also told him that, if he wanted, I could give him our Outreach phone number. That way, he could call us whenever he wanted and we could come by to spend some time with him. Edmond loved the idea, and at hearing the words his face lit up with a bright smile.
We chatted a bit more, led him back to his room, and parted ways. But that wasn’t the last time we would meet. Edmond took us up on the offer and called our Outreach line occasionally. We were able to keep in touch and to give him a community of support as he continued his hospital stay. Once he was able to leave the hospital, he continued to keep in touch, too. Covenant House Vancouver is now there for him whenever he needs support from our various programs and services.
It’s stories like this that make me feel proud of the work I do. In a small way, I get to be a source of connection for young people in need. And I get to show them that they’re not alone on their journey to a healthy and happy independent life.
– Story shared by Shawnee, a CHV Youth Worker