Jeanne came to Canada in 2019. As a refugee, she didn’t know anyone, or where to turn. “Coming to Canada so abruptly, knowing no one, I had nowhere to stay. I was clueless on how things worked here, the way forward and I was really scared.”
Fortunately, a helpful stranger at the airport suggested Covenant House to Jeanne. From there, she was able to find housing with a roommate at first, but then moved on to have her own room and then on to off-site housing.
Jeanne first joined the Rights of Passage (ROP) program, which offered skill building sessions on topics such as budgeting, time management, cooking and home care and maintenance, tenancy rights and more. However, starting over in a new country isn’t easy and Jeanne was trying to figure out her next step.
“Everything was different from what I was used to,” explained Jeanne, “and I found it really hard moving forward. This made me really depressed and deteriorated my physical and mental health.”
At the same time, Taya Day, a local real estate broker and a top fundraiser for Covenant House, was looking for more ways to help the young people we support. She decided to be a mentor in The Poy Family Mentorship Program. With her sharp professional skillset and warm personal nature, Taya had a lot to offer a mentee.
Jeanne applied to be a part of the mentorship program and was quickly matched with Taya. “When I saw Taya's portfolio, I was instantly motivated. I saw a successful lady, a goal getter, someone with ambition. Although I still was not sure of exactly what I wanted to do career wise, I knew I wanted to be like Taya.”
Through their mentoring relationship, Jeanne started identifying the career options she was interested in. “After doing that, we researched on all the prerequisites, duration and cost of doing each of them. We then re-ordered them based on feasibility and I set goals to achieve them. Under Taya's mentorship, I was able to try out two of the career prospects we listed and achieve a good number of my goals,” Jeanne explains.
Taya saw first-hand the hard work Jeanne was putting into making changes in her life, seeing “with each milestone, obtaining more and more independence.”
Jeanne worked multiple jobs to do it but was finally able to save up enough money for a down payment on a house. With Taya’s professional guidance, she bought her first home. “I don't think I have ever felt so proud,” Taya says. “This was by far the highlight of my experience in this program. I don't think I realized how much happiness and fulfilment this could bring.”
Jeanne credits her accomplishments and her ability to become a homeowner to the support she got from her mentor. “To list all the things working with Taya helped me to achieve would be an understatement, but I can for sure say that working with Taya played a huge role in where I am today.”
Taya’s experience with Covenant House’s mentoring program has made her an even strong ambassador for the program. “I wish people knew more about the reasons why a young person may homeless, that every story is so different and that with some love and compassion and guidance you can make a huge difference.”