Desirée Hosking dedicated her almost 40-year career to serving youth who are homeless and trafficked at Covenant House Toronto. Desirée’s journey at Covenant House began as a Youth Worker and upon her recent retirement she held the position of Associate Director of Program Services.
Over the years, Des held many other roles and has been a part of the agency’s incredible growth. In the beginning Covenant House, then known as Under 21, was much smaller – we had two buildings, an intake centre and a residence with only 35 beds.
Desirée explains, “The intake centre was intended to be a place where kids came in, completed the intake process and walked over to the residence. But we had so many kids that first night that there were kids sleeping on mats on the floor in the intake centre and it soon became part of the shelter. On average, there were 40 young males that would sleep in the intake centre each night.”
At the time, we lacked the breadth of services we have today, but strong relationships were and still are key to the success of our work.
For Desirée, working with young people has been incredibly rewarding, it’s the memories of the youth that she has worked with and had the privilege to see grow and progress that will be the greatest take away of her career.
“I think of the number of youth who managed to work through a really difficult time, stabilized and then left better than when they came and did well…It’s also really gratifying to have youth who remember you, many years later, and who go out of their way to get in touch with you,” says Desirée.
So much has changed since Covenant House opened its doors in 1982. We are incredibly grateful to Desirée and all the long-time staff that have helped the agency evolve and respond to the growing needs of the young people who come to us.
“I remember when Desirée first came to work, she was the only female among a group of men and she really had to establish herself. That’s been her way of working and I’ve always appreciated that. She has firm beliefs and is almost intuitive when working with youth. Over the years, she has done a tremendous job and I have ultimate respect for her.” – Alan Finlayson, retired 40-year staff