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“Goodbye walls, goodbye chairs, goodbye everyone!”

“Goodbye walls, goodbye chairs, goodbye everyone! Thank you for everything; I will miss you all!” These were Jo’s quirky yet endearing words as she exited the Crisis Program to embark on a new chapter of her life.

Allow me to introduce you to Jo, a strong and resilient young woman who braved her way to Canada from a distant land for a better future. Jo had a tumultuous life and had faced quite a bit of difficulty in the past.

I can only imagine how scared she was when she first walked through the doors of Covenant House Vancouver. I imagine her apprehension and uncertainty in relying on strangers to meet her needs. Jo was most likely afraid, and probably even doubted if coming to CHV was the right decision.  The first night is usually the most difficult: a new bed in a strange new room, unfamiliar faces around you…and for her, a whole new country, too.

When chatting with her one day, Jo told me about her early experiences at Covenant House. She slowly started to notice that the youth workers checked in with her at least twice a day. She noticed the consistently delicious meals that were served by the smiling kitchen staff.  She was delighted when a staff member chatted with her for an hour after a long, hard day at work.

Jo noticed that she started to feel a tinge of something she had never felt before. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew it was something good.   

As time went by, Jo felt more and more comfortable. The new positive memories kept piling on. During art group one evening, she noticed she had a knack for painting. During a case plan meeting, her social worker made her laugh hard enough to accidentally spray water out of her mouth. During morning check-ins, her youth workers helped her fill out important paperwork that she was sure was too complicated to ever complete on her own.

Jo studying hard

Amidst all these experiences, Jo realized that it was okay not to be okay sometimes, and it was okay to tell someone. The shy and apprehensive person who walked into Covenant House was blossoming into her true self. Her apprehension was soon replaced with an expressive wit and joyful confidence. Her blues were soon replaced by laughter and hope.

Of course, Jo still had some bad days, but she realized that through it all she had made new connections with people that cared for and supported her. She saw in these connections a source of strength in difficult times.

Finally, Jo was able to identify that feeling she couldn’t understand before. It was safety. Jo finally felt safe. She felt at home.

It was a sad day when Jo left us, but we knew she had to fly to soar. She had learned all that she could from CHV and was ready for a new chapter. As she exited the building, we all watched her go, proud and joyful that our Jo was finally ready to begin a new journey of her own.

We know that she is out there doing amazing things, winning one battle at a time.

Story written by Suncha, a Youth Worker in our Crisis Program