Joshua* originally joined the Crisis Program at Covenant House Vancouver with the hope of one day returning to his family home. Unfortunately, Joshua was born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), and the barriers and challenges associated with that led his life down a different path.
I stepped into the role as Joshua’s full-time Youth Worker knowing two things about him—his love of A&W and the beaming smile that he always had on his face.
It took Joshua a while to adjust to the structure of the Crisis Program and he struggled with addiction and personal hygiene. As Joshua settled into the program, his drug use declined and he developed a daily hygiene routine.
Joshua enrolled at the HAVE Culinary Training Society for their 8-week program, where he learned how to properly clean, prep, and cook food. Initially, a CHV Youth Worker would accompany Joshua to and from the school, but over time, Joshua became comfortable enough to travel on his own. This program had a profound influence on Joshua’s progress.
Joshua would leave CHV in the morning, grinning from ear to ear and would proclaim, “I am going to HAVE!” Many times, he would return back to CHV, after a day of training, and would go to the front desk with a big smile on his face, proudly showcasing what he had cooked that day. The HAVE program became a very important part of Joshua’s Monday to Friday routine. He felt a sense of belonging at HAVE and the program’s coordinator expressed how much they enjoyed having him there.
In addition to educational opportunities, the staff at CHV support youth by helping them find housing and job placement opportunities. I accompanied Joshua to WorkBC meetings that were aimed at finding him suitable employment. Joshua felt that he would be best suited to work in a kitchen environment, with the skills that he learned.
While Joshua was training, his Social Worker at CHV connected him to Community Living BC (CLBC), an organization that ensures that their clients have the appropriate support, opportunities, and funding to get into shared accommodation. Initially, Joshua felt very anxious about his environment changing, once again. The CHV team strategized ways that they could help ease Joshua’s anxiety and support him during this big change in his life. They decided that they would go with Joshua to see his new accommodations, by taking transit, to help Joshua become comfortable with the bus routes. On one occasion, they stopped at A&W, to show Joshua that his favourite restaurant was easily accessible to him, from his new home environment.
The time finally came for him to transition to his new living space. We were in the living room of his new home. The dogs, who were now his roommates, jumped on him with excitement. With a big smile on his face, Joshua petted the dogs and told me, “This reminds me of when I had pets at my old home.” His smile told me that he found some comfort in his new accommodation, and that eased my concerns, knowing that this hadn’t been an easy decision or change for Joshua.
About a week later, a team member who had worked with Joshua, saw him at the bus stop and asked him how he was doing. With a big smile, Joshua said, “I’m good. I am just waiting for my bus to go home.”
Being a part of Joshua’s support team at CHV, has been the highlight of my time as a Youth Worker. Although faced with many challenges, Joshua has made incredible progress through the Crisis Program. It has now been a month since Joshua left Covenant House, and every week, I see him across the street waiting for his bus, which always brings a smile to my face knowing that he is on his way to a place he now calls home.
Shared by Jaime, Youth Worker for our Crisis Program
*Name has been changed to respect youth’s privacy