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Social Work Week Spotlight — Lisa

This week is Social Work Week. As part of our shout our to all of the amazing social workers, throughout our community and here at CHV, we would like to introduce you to Lisa.

This is Lisa’s 24th year at CHV. Lisa learned about CHV through her parents, who loved this organization and were donors. In a humorous anecdote, Lisa mentioned that her mom actually applied to CHV for her. When Lisa received a call about the application, she had no idea that she had even applied. The position that Lisa’s mom applied to was no longer available, but the person from CHV asked Lisa if she’d be interested in a job as a youth worker. Then, as Lisa stated, “Twenty-three years later, I am still in one of the best jobs ever.”

To help frame CHV’s approach to supporting youth, let’s quickly run through factors that contribute to youth homelessness:

  • Effects of colonization
  • Marginalization
  • Poverty
  • Breakdown in family dynamics
  • Rejected by family for identifying as 2SLGBTQAI+
  • Undiagnosed/untreated mental health disorders
  • Age out of foster care
  • New immigrants

As each youth’s circumstances are unique, so is Lisa’s approach to supporting them. CHV works from a trauma-informed lens, meaning that if a youth has to tell their story, repeatedly, to different frontline staff, there is a chance that they could be retraumatized. To mitigate that, Lisa collects information from the youth’s intake session, so that when the youth meets Lisa, a couple of days later, she already knows their story.

Lisa assesses their mental health status through an assessment; connects youth to resources like clinical counsellors, mental health and addiction services; and introduces them to all of the opportunities available at CHV. Lisa helps youth set goals and then works with them to achieve those goals, in a time frame that is comfortable for the youth. Lisa also supports youth when it is time to find housing.

“Youth can’t move forward until they are healthy — physically, mentally, and spiritually, so we help them achieve this.”

Because of their experiences, many youth do not believe that they are worthy of love, worthy of help and support, and worthy of achieving the life that they want. “It can take months for youth to accept help, and we take that journey with them.”

CHV’s trauma-informed approach means that once a youth is assigned a social worker, that social worker is with them for their whole journey, as long as that takes. Lisa says that the best part of her role is to watch youth grow and mature, while in our care.

Lisa also helps youth with self-advocacy. “We try and provide the resources for youth to have a voice. Whether that’s taking them to go vote, whether that’s going on marches with them, letting them air out their grievances with us, or providing them with information they need, so, for example, if they’re not being treated fairly at work, we show them the options available to them. We need to help these young people have that voice to be able to carry the next generations forward.”

Lisa shared a story that illustrates the impact that social workers can have on the people they support. Lisa was on a call to the Ministry of Social Services. While conversing with a social worker at the Ministry, Lisa asked, “Excuse me, could I get your name, please?” To which the social worker replied, “Lisa, It’s me!?” As it turned out, the social worker at the Ministry was Lisa’s first client at CHV!

Thank you to the social workers at CHV, and throughout the community, who continue to support those in need!