Last night a community of business leaders, executives, and visionaries gave up their beds for one night, and with one purpose — to ensure that young people overcoming homelessness can receive life-changing support at Covenant House Vancouver.
Our sleepers braved the cold to help ensure that youth will continue to have access to critical, life-changing services. We’d like to thank them and their supporters for their generosity, empathy, and the incredible kindness that is in each of their hearts.
Participants had an opportunity to tour our new building and attend break-out sessions, to learn how we support young people by helping them meet their immediate needs with things like food and short-term housing. Everyone learned about our continuum of care and the wraparound support we provide, meeting youth where they are in their, providing medical care, access to clinical counsellors and mental health supports, access to social workers, and help to exit homelessness and human trafficking.
A highlight of the evening was hearing from our program staff and young people who received care at Covenant House Vancouver. Both the staff and the youth spoke to the trauma-informed practices and how these principles show up in the care and attention youth receive. From building healthy and trusting relationships, to working with a consistent case management team, and even in the design and layout of the building – spaces were created with these principles in mind.
Youth shared their experiences about homelessness and how Covenant House Vancouver supported them on their journeys.
One comment from a youth speaker spoke to the importance of finding a place where there is hope, healing, and an opportunity for a second chance, “Covenant House isn’t just a shelter – it’s a safe place, where passions are ignited and potential unleashed.”
When the youth were asked if there was anything they wanted to share with the sleepers one young person stated, “As leaders we need to think about how we can continue to build a more compassionate world and lead with our hearts, but also how to be more compassionate to ourselves too.”
The morning reflection provided sleepers with the opportunity to get together as a group and share their experiences. They discussed how they felt during the night, and how challenging it was to wake up and get going. They spoke of the choice that each one of them has to be here and participate in an initiative like this. One participant explained, “We chose to do this. I think sometimes you might have in your head that these kids have no choice and they’re out on the street. But what’s more disturbing is thinking that they do have a choice and the choice they’ve made is to be out on the street because that feels like a better, safer place to be than other places they could be.” Emotions were high, and the room was filled with a new appreciation for the resilience that youth who are experiencing homelessness.
No young person should be without a home — period. Last night, our sleepers and their networks raised critical awareness and much-needed funds that will help ensure that youth have a safe place to call home. We want to give a very special thank you to our two matching donors, George and Sylvie Melville, for providing $150,000 in matching donations as well as the Nicola Family Foundation, who provided $100,000 in matching funds to all donations made to John and Jared’s page.
Sleep Out has grown into a movement of hope, compassion, and advocacy. Together, we will continue to work to ensure that if a young person needs help or a place to belong, we will always be here to welcome them in and provide a safe space to heal, grow, and thrive.
A huge thank you to our sleepers for being such tireless advocates and using their influence to raise awareness and funds to help support young people relentlessly!