Alisha experienced homelessness after conflict within their family became untenable – a common reason youth arrive at Covenant House Toronto’s doors.
“When I became homeless, it was the worst time of my life,” they said. “I didn’t feel safe, I didn’t feel safe in my family’s house. I didn’t know where to go.
It was incredibly useful for me to access Covenant House when I did.”
The useful support turned out to be Samson Romero, one of Covenant House Toronto’s Family & Natural Supports workers. Samson’s role is to help young people experiencing homelessness create, strengthen or keep a relationship with at least one caring adult in their lives. The goal is to secure these bonds so that the young person has someone they can call at 2am if they’re in trouble or even when they hit a positive life milestone like getting their first job.
Samson and Alisha worked together first on healing and how to develop some skills like setting healthy boundaries, Alisha said.
Then, when Alisha was ready, Samson suggested returning home and talking with family while preparing a meal together. Alisha found it helped rebuild some bridges.
“With Samson’s help, we were able to better understand each other,” Alisha said.
He also helped Alisha connect with their art – both painting and ceramics. It provided them with an emotional outlet, a place to put the grief, disappointment and anger they had been feeling.
“There is shame in saying you’ve experienced homelessness, but why are we ashamed? When we have services like this, more accessible, more far-reaching – that’s when you’ll actually be able to take away the shame and the stigma that comes with homelessness,” Alisha said.
“The services I used helped me navigate myself to a better place. There’s always work to be done but I also admire how far I’ve come.”