Finding care and community at Covenant House – Cristiano’s story

When *Cristiano first arrived at Covenant House, he didn’t just find food and a safe place to rest. He also found connection, and a community he holds dear even now that he’s moved on to an apartment of his own.

Cristiano was first introduced to Covenant House through the drop-in centre, where he was able to take a shower, do his laundry, get some rest and eat a hot meal.

Here, he met caring staff that helped meet his immediate needs while he tried to get a shelter bed. Cristiano came to the drop-in centre every day until a bed was available for him at Covenant House – thanks in large part, he says, to the commitment of staff to ensure he was on the wait list.

The day he learned a bed was available for him at Covenant House was a very emotional one for him, after 23 days without a stable place to sleep.

“I was so happy to know there would be no more nights spent outside,” he says. “I got a tour around the building and was just amazed at how many supports there are here. Covenant House managers and staff were so, so good to me.”

Once Cristiano had a space in the shelter, he took part in the art therapy program and started playing soccer with staff and other youth every Tuesday night. He made friends and felt sturdy enough to take some steps forward in his life.

After three months, Covenant House staff helped him find a place to live in the community.

“That was my happiest day ever when I learned I was approved for housing support that would allow me to get a place to live,” he said. “I was also so sad, though, to say goodbye to everyone I met at Covenant House.”

Although he is now living in the community, Cristiano still comes back for those weekly soccer matches. The return visits help him stay connected to a caring community of staff and peers who are rooting for him, both on and off the soccer field. He is eager to share his gratitude to also support other youth in need.

“I’d like to say thank you Covenant House, from the managers to the workers to the supervisors and the case managers and to the drop-in centre, especially,” he says. “They really made me feel cared for during a difficult time.”