COVID-19 Update from Executive Director Mark Aston

April 3, 2020 at 9 a.m.

To our valued supporters:

I hope you and your families continue to be safe and well. As you are well aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving at an alarming rate, and we continue to be a 24-7 refuge to youth experiencing homelessness or sex trafficking during this challenging time.

We would like to thank our community of supporters, including many of our volunteers, who have reached out to us to check-in and impart words of encouragement. We are so grateful to be in your hearts right now.

Here is an update to keep you informed about our situation.

Ensuring the health and safety of our staff and youth

I am pleased to report again this week that there haven’t been any positive cases of COVID-19 among the youth at Covenant House.

We are continuing to abide by the best practices outlined by local, provincial and federal health authorities and our in-house health care team to keep our staff and youth safe.

Helping youth cope

In a matter of weeks, young people staying with us—who have put so much work into stabilizing their lives—have been thrown back into uncertainty.

And for youth experiencing mental health challenges, they are far more vulnerable under the current circumstances. Their feelings of isolation, anxiety and distress have now been compounded during this pandemic, and our staff are working hard to help them cope.

This support is especially critical now as our youth are also experiencing job losses and fears about how they’re going to be able to pay rent. No matter what happens, we are committed to keeping them safe, healthy, and cared for.

Help us help our youth

While the rest of the country closes, we remain open 24-7. And our only hope to manage these turbulent times is through the generous support of our donors. Together we can be there for the most vulnerable in our community—the ones who urgently need extra help during an emergency like this.

To support our COVID-19 crisis response, click here.

Thank you for being there in these difficult times and please check this page for future updates.

Sincerely,
Mark Aston


 

March 27, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.

To our valued supporters:

I hope you and your families are safe and well. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, our services are needed now more than ever. Here is an update to keep you informed about our situation.

Some good news

I’m pleased to tell you that there haven’t been any positive cases of COVID-19 among the youth staying at Covenant House as of the time of this posting.

We are grateful that our staff and youth continue to work together to ensure the safety and health of everyone at Covenant House.

Providing an essential service

As an essential service, Covenant House continues to operate our programming for youth, which includes the following:

  • 96-bed crisis shelter, open 24-7
  • On-site transitional housing
  • BensKids Health Centre (by appointment only)
  • Specialized housing programs in the community

Although our on-site drop-in centre is currently closed, youth in the community are still able to access our food bank and receive bagged lunches and hygiene supplies.

Youth are also able to connect with our mental health specialist and other front line staff for support.

Working the front lines

We would not be able to provide these services without the incredible dedication of our front line staff. Thank you to the youth workers, counsellors, health care practitioners, operations, food services and housekeeping employees who continue to ensure our youth are safe and their needs are met during this difficult time.

Preparation and prevention

We continue to undertake measures to help protect the health and safety of youth and staff and prepare for every eventuality should the situation change at our shelter. This includes taking direction around best practices from local, provincial and federal health authorities and relying heavily on the in-house expertise of our health care team.

Our building continues to be closed to external visitors, except for youth and staff. We are screening all youth before they enter the building and referring them for COVID-19 testing should they appear to be at risk of having contracted the virus. If you plan on coming to Covenant House, we ask that you telephone in advance of arriving on-site at (416) 593-4849 or toll-free at 1-800-435-7308.

Your invaluable support is needed and appreciated

It is our privilege to serve youth and our community, and we will continue to do so with our donors and supporters at our side.

This is a challenging time for the non-profit sector, and in response, we have signed a letter along with 140 other Canadian charities calling for federal support of the charitable sector.

To support our COVID-19 crisis response, click here.

Thank you for being there in these difficult times and please check this page for future updates.

Sincerely,
Mark Aston


 

March 17, 2020 at 3:30 p.m.

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we would like to share with you the measures we are taking to support the health and well-being of our youth and staff, in addition to donors and volunteers.

Visits to the building

  • Effective immediately, our building will be closed to external visitors, except for youth and staff. We have cancelled all volunteer-led activities at the house and will delay donor visits for the foreseeable future.
  • We have decided to postpone our upcoming fundraising events and will provide an update on new event dates in the future.
  • While we greatly appreciate the generous support of donors who’ve collected goods, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the acceptance of donations of clothing and non-perishable items at this time to reduce foot traffic and exposure at our facilities.

Our programming

We are continuing to operate all of our programming for youth, which includes our:

  • 96-bed crisis shelter, open 24-7.
  • On-site transitional housing.
  • On-site drop-in centre (food bank and meal pick-ups will be available).
  • BensKids Health Centre (by appointment only).
  • Specialized housing programs in the community.

If you need our services, we ask that you telephone in advance of arriving on-site as the COVID-19 situation is evolving rapidly and we may need to make changes to our services quickly. We can be reached at (416) 593-4849 or toll-free at 1-800-435-7308.

What we’re doing

We have undertaken several measures to help protect health and safety, which include:

  • Taking direction around best practices from local, provincial and federal health authorities.
  • Screening all youth before they enter the building and referring them for COVID-19 testing should they appear to be at risk of having contracted the virus.
  • Ensuring staff self-monitor and follow public health guidance.
  • Preparing for every eventuality should the situation change within our shelter and self-isolation and quarantine spaces become necessary.
  • Putting in place remote work opportunities for the majority of our administrative staff to minimize the potential spread of the virus.

It is our privilege to serve youth and our community, and we will continue to do so with our donors and supporters at our side.

We will provide updates should there be any significant changes to our operations.

Sincerely,
Mark Aston