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Covenant House donor Maria A. VieraMaria A. Vieira knows what it’s like to arrive in Toronto with a heart full of hope—and not much else.

In 1959, she and her husband Sam left behind a dictatorship in Portugal to build a life with more opportunities for their two young children. They spent their first years in Canada learning and improving their English, upgrading their training, expanding their family and establishing careers.

It all seems like a long time ago for the 85-year-old mother of four, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of four little ones. But her early days of uncertainty sometimes come back to her when she thinks about the struggles of the youth we serve.

The power of our work became personal when two of Vieira’s granddaughters were diagnosed with bipolar disorder in their teens and left their homes at different times. When the family learned that they were staying in shelters, Vieira was relieved. But she worries about young people who don’t have a support system and is glad Covenant House can help them find a path forward.

I read about what Covenant House does for young people, not just giving them three meals a day and shelter, but going a step further with counseling, support and helping them with their education and mental health.

Vieira has donated to Covenant House since 1998 and became a monthly donor a few years ago: “It’s not an extravagant amount but it matters. The hopeful stories help me feel like I’m making a difference by donating to a worthwhile cause.”