The evening began with three former residents of Covenant House sharing their experiences and where they are now. One of the graduates was a runaway, one was kicked out of his home for coming out at as gay, the third was aged-out of foster care and had nowhere to go other than the streets. All three are either in University or have graduated. Once homeless, destitute and without family, the support and LOVE they receive(d) from Covenant House gave them a sense of family they so desperately needed. As these young adults spoke It became very clear that the funds we raise reaches beyond the homeless child in immediate need. As these kids become whole and eventually have families of their own, the impact of Covenant House goes beyond rescuing one generation; Covey as is it affectionally called by the children is breaking cycles for future generations.
After the Covenant House graduates spoke, we toured the house and met staff from each department; the passion that they have for these kids was palpable. Most of the staff (I think we should call them parents) have been with Covey for over 20 years. Covenant House operates like a home. They serve 250 kids each day through both residential and drop-in programs. Everything that Covenant House does is carefully and lovingly designed to support the growth, healing, and the overall development of these children. They are focused on fostering trust and connections in a very basic way. I say basic because they are building their relationships doing the things we generally take for granted. Meal time is always family style, small round tables with a staff member AKA parent at each one. The kids are involved with planning and prepping the meals. There are living rooms, multiple kitchens, and the bedrooms don’t house more than a few kids in each. This family environment is something we all need, and to a child who has been alone, living on a park bench, hungry, and more times than not victimized, the safety they are given by Covenant House is life-changing. With these basic needs met and the feeling of safety provided the kids are able to focus on building a life and a future.
After the tour I shared my story. Normally I am not nervous; it’s my story, I don’t need a script or to think about what I’m going to say. This occasion was very different. After seeing what I'd wished I'd had ... and feeling so proud to contribute to making sure that children who are on the streets now can find safety - my emotions were all over the place. As I began to speak, the whole room went so silent I could almost hear my heartbeat … the silence gave way to tears … there was not a dry eye in the house, including mine. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude as I looked around the room at these 82 women who came together to support homeless youth. As a former homeless child, one of the worst feelings was that of being forgotten and uncared for. The lack of love and basic human contact … the hopelessness was devastating. To see so many people in one room come together because they care so much about these children was healing, I felt like a part of me ... that homeless kid inside me … was being cared for too.
It’s not over … it will not be over until every child has a home.
As the fundraising drive for this event has come to a close, the need to support homeless youth and Covenant House has not. Whether you volunteer or donate, I ask that you take a moment and get involved. You can learn more about their services and what you can do on www.CovenantHouseToronto.ca
Beyond financial donations, Covenant House is always looking for sponsors/partners. Their top needs are;
* Employment opportunities
Apartments at a reduced rental rate
Food for their food bank
To get involved as a corporate sponsor contact:
Senior Development Officer
Direct Telephone: 416.204.7086
* Covenant House has an amazing program - "Cooking For Life"
While the youth at Covenant house are seeking all types of employment, many of them also participate in the "Cooking For Life" program. The training program is led by a professional chef instructor over several weeks and taught in a fully equipped industrial kitchen. All graduates have their Food Handlers Certification upon completion of the program.