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How are you? “Honestly, not too great.”

I first met Maz in the Drop-In Centre. He would come in on Wednesday afternoons with some of the other youth from our Pender shelter to sit on the couches and watch TV. I didn’t really know too much about him at the time. We would say “hi” to each other casually, but that’s about it.

Weeks go by, and I notice that Maz is suddenly coming into the Drop-In Centre more often than once a week now. At this point, I still don’t know him too well. But I continued to greet him every time he came in and asked him how he was doing.

Over time, I got to learn more and more about him.

It turned out that Maz had some medical issues, specifically, some minor infections in his feet. So, when he came to the Drop-In space, I made sure to ask if he had any medical appointments that day and if I could either help him get to any of them, or keep him company on the way.

One day, I was sitting at one of the tables in the Drop-In Centre and Maz sat down next to me. I asked him how he was doing. He responded, “Honestly, not too great.” Maz proceeded to tell me about how he had to leave our Pender Crisis Program because of a conflict he had with another youth. He said, up until very recently, he was living with a friend. It was an awkward arrangement because that friend “had enough dope at the house to keep him high for days.”

Maz felt uncomfortable being there because he was in recovery from his own addictions. So, he decided to leave his friend’s place and sleep on the streets. He would rather be at risk on the street than be surrounded by drugs and tempted to use them.

As he continued to share his story, I could see his eyes tear up and the words getting harder and harder to say. It was clearly a very difficult story to share and a hard position to be in.

I listened to Maz open up to me about his life. I told him that I felt very grateful for him trusting me with his story. All this was new information, and it seemed like our relationship hit a new milestone. It put me in a better position to support Maz however I could.

Maz sat there and cried for a time. And I sat with him, not saying a word. He seemed so relieved to finally be able to tell someone what has been happening to him.

Eventually, he composed himself a little bit and thanked me for listening to him. He said he thought I “seemed cool” and that’s why he felt that he could open up to me. We chatted a bit more and I walked him up to the clothing room, since he needed some fresh, clean clothes. Then, he left the Drop-In Centre for the day.

He continues to drop by every day or so, and I continue to check in with him. I don’t plan to stop, as I want him to know that he can continue to trust me as a person to confide in and as a person to support him in whatever way I can.

Shared by a Youth Worker in our Community Support Services program