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Covenant House

Introducing Covenant House: Toronto’s largest Youth shelter welcomes, heals and transforms our Youth

A friendly, rainbow stained-glass arch frames the doorway to Covenant House and welcomes about 3,500 Youth each year as Canada’s largest Youth Shelter. As more than just a place to stay, Covenant House provides 24/7 crisis care to youth 16 to 24 regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or the circumstances that have brought them to their threshold. By providing youth with access to multiple resources, including education, counselling, health care and employment assistance, Covenant House helps to inspire hope and build resiliance in homeless youth.

Specifically, Covenant House programs are designed to welcome, protect, nourish and transform homeless youth. Other support services include educating, mentoring, healing and inspiring young people.

It is rewarding as a nurse to see that the work we do with the youth makes such a difference, whether it is building trust and developing relationships or doing wound care and hands-on nursing.  Over the past year of working at Covenant house, I have seen Jacob on many occasions. Every time he visited our clinic, he had been beaten up or had badly bruised lack eyes with scabs all over his face. Jacob seemed to truth the health care staff enough to “check in” with us and would allow us to do some medical care but would never stay for long in our shelter.  With the help of our team of social workers and youth workers and other community resources, Jacob found housing. He now comes back to our healthcare department to “check in” but in a very different physical state. His bruises and scabs have all healed and he is even smiling when his sees us.  It is so rewarding to see how stable housing can change a young person’s life. And I am so happy that Jacob continues to come to our clinic so that we can see the massive life change he has made.

– Covenant House Registered Nurse

“K” is someone you might call a “tough nut to crack,” meaning he doesn’t let people in very easily. From what little I know, he had a terrible start in life with much abuse and terror.  This is his second time in our Rights of Passage (ROP) residence, as his willfulness and self-sabotaging got in the way his first stay. Almost a year later, he returned to us to try again. The difference in him was very encouraging; he had decided that ROP was the best place for him to work on his emotional and mental health issues.  Being his primary youth worker since his first stay, I had spent a lot of time redirecting and challenging him. This made his skeptical to work with me again and he sure told me so! We spent hours discussing trust, commitment, respect, and understanding, which resulted in a better relationship between us.  One day K asked me if I would attend a specialist appointment with him. He told me that he was a little scared of the tests they were going to be doing and the news they might tell him. Not only did he express his feelings but he actually asked for support. This was an epic moment for me and for him. I went to the appointment with him but, unfortunately, the specialist confirmed the bad new K was expecting. Together, we spent the afternoon absorbing the news and strategizing. We continue to seek resources for his care and are currently following some great leads.  I am so grateful that he has opened himself up to trust me with this difficult situation and I am reminded of how vital our support is to young people like K.

– Rights of Passage Youth Worker

As I was walking through the house, I saw one of our recent culinary arts training program graduates. She was smiling from ear to ear and came up to tell me she had just come back from an interview at her field placement. She was beaming with excitement and told me all about the fancy hotel, the professional kitchen and the experience chef she would be working with.   She told me she was really happy and seemed to imply that she hadn’t been happy for a while. She thanked me for giving her the opportunity and gave me a huge hug.  No matter how many times I hear “thank you” from the youth, it always leaves me feeling spiritually rich and entirely humbled, and I know that I am getting a thank you that belongs to the entire community of Covenant House.

– Support Services Manager

I have a candy dish in my office and the policy is: if you want a piece of candy, you MUST say something nice about yourself.   One day I had a young man come running urgently into a room I was in and said he needed to speak with me right away. We went into my office and I asked him what was wrong. The young man looked at me and said, “I woke up this morning and realized I have values, ideas, and I am not afraid to stand by them and express them. I also know that one day I will be going to university and my good qualities will help me in my studies.” He then stopped and I looked at him, waiting for him to finish his story or ask me something, and then he said “May I have three candies now?”  Now, whenever I see him, he has positive things to say about himself and it makes me so happy.

– Vocational Services Worker

We’re excited to support such an important Youth cause and hope you’re just as inspired!

Visit Covenant House’s website at www.covenanthouse.ca to learn more about this vital Toronto progam and how you can get involved!

Support Covenant House programs and services by donating via our Canada Helps Giving page.