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Stephen’s Transformative Journey with Covenant House Vancouver

In the bustling city of Vancouver, Stephen* faced unexpected challenges that led him to homelessness. This is the story of his resilience and the transformative impact of Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) in helping him rebuild his life. 

Originally from Prince George, Stephen moved to Vancouver with a friend, hoping for new opportunities. However, his plans took an unexpected turn when his friend was arrested, leaving Stephen alone and facing homelessness. The harsh reality of living on the streets became apparent as he quickly exhausted his resources. Renting a hotel room alone, Stephen quickly burned through his money. “I’d never been homeless, until Vancouver.” 

Desperate for support, Stephen found solace at Covenant House Vancouver. During his intake, he admitted that he occasionally used alcohol and cannabis, but that he was working on quitting. 

Stephen came to CHV at the onset of the pandemic, which required him to spend his initial days in isolation; a challenging period for Stephen that made him decide to leave. Realizing that he had made a mistake, a few days later, he returned to CHV, seeking the stability it offered.  

After a month at CHV, Stephen found a job and a place to live. However, Stephen faced recurring challenges due to an unhealthy cycle with his friend who was released from jail. He would find a place to live, his friend would move in, and Stephen would soon lose his apartment. “I have a thing about helping people who are not necessarily good for me. My best friend is addicted to opiates and that’s who I kept letting back into my life. He would always ruin it for me.”  

Recognizing his tendency to help those who were not necessarily beneficial to his well-being, Stephen struggled to break free from this destructive pattern. He was using alcohol and cannabis more, but he always returned to CHV. “They were always open for me to come back. If I took a step back and then I looked at my life, I’d be like, how did this happen?”  

Acknowledging the need for change, Stephen began accepting assistance from CHV. Staff members provided rides to appointments and supported his pursuit of certifications, including Traffic Control Person and WHMIS. Recognizing the importance of boundaries, he gradually distanced himself from negative influences. 

“I ended up talking with CHV staff and they helped me get into treatment and into detox. And that was a big step for sure.”  

Taking a significant step forward marked a pivotal moment in his journey. His stay at CHV became his longest, allowing him to build a foundation for a brighter future. Stephen is now living independently in a micro-suite, and his life has improved dramatically. Establishing routines, he frequents CHV for meals, accesses Covey’s Cupboard for groceries, and utilizes the clothing room. CHV has not only empowered him to set boundaries with friends but has also supported his educational pursuits. Through Vancouver Coastal Health, Stephen is working towards becoming a certified peer support worker, a career path that seemed so out of reach once before. “A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined that I would have a career; that I would become a support worker and help people. I’m learning how to help somebody that’s homeless or struggling with addiction. I’ve experienced a lot of what we’re learning, but now I’m understanding why I’ve done those things.” When the course is finished, Stephen will be placed in a practicum and then will receive his certification.  

Stephen’s journey isn’t just about personal transformation; it’s about paying it forward. He has played a crucial role in helping his friend find stability and access the necessary support systems. “I was able to get him into his own place. I got him where he needed to be so that he could get help. Far enough away from me, because I’m not going to risk losing my place again.”  

“I got places I could be, but I choose to come here (CHV). They want me to do good and not veer off into trouble. It’s like Covenant House has just been there for me to get my grounding and get my head in order. No other place is close to being this helpful, this good.” 

Stephen’s story reflects the power of resilience and the positive impact of organizations like Covenant House Vancouver. Through dedication, support, and education, Stephen has not only reclaimed his life but is also on the path to becoming an inspiration and a source of hope for others facing similar struggles.  

If you would like to donate to Covenant House Vancouver and help support youth, like Stephen, on their journeys, take advantage of our Triple Match Campaign, on now! Bryan and Kim James understand how important it is to meet every youth’s basic needs, so for the second year in a row, Bryan and Kim will be matching donations, so that every gift will go 3X as far in supporting youth, as they work towards the futures that they deserve. 

Every dollar that you donate, during this campaign, will be matched to triple your impact. But hurry. The Triple Match Campaign ends December 31st. Donate today

*Name and photo have been changed to protect the youth’s identity.