Andrea’s parents were often absent and overwhelmed with work and family. She fell in with the wrong crowd and made some of the poor decisions that many young teenagers make. But her mom’s anger and impatience with her pushed her further away until she no longer felt welcome at home.
Andrea arrived at our doors at 16. She craved the kindness and guidance that she was not getting at home. When our youth worker Mike first met her, he explained the expectations he had for her. Like all our kids staying with us, she needed to commit to a plan to move forward independently. Mike expected Andrea to work towards her own success, but he would be here for whatever help she needed. His warm, but no-nonsense approach resonated with Andrea and she enthusiastically embraced his message.
Andrea registered in a community high school and landed two part-time jobs with Mike’s support. Mike helped her with resumes, applications and practical advice. He vouched for her and gave her references with employers and her school. He also gave her a listening ear whenever she needed. She stayed with us through Grade 11 and learned to believe in herself and her future. It became clear to staff that Andrea was special. With Mike’s mentorship, she worked much harder than most kids her age towards her goal of self-sufficiency. She also cautiously reached out a few times to her parents and sisters to reconnect, and finally moved back in with her family.
“I was feeling better about life and getting along better with my mom,” Andrea recalls. “Then, I found out at 18 that I was pregnant.” Uncertainty cast its shadow on her life once more.
The lessons that Andrea had learned over the past year made her far better equipped to rise to the challenge of motherhood. “Living at Covenant House, I realized that I will become a better person and be successful in life, but only if I put my own effort into it.” She graduated from high school and continued to work throughout her pregnancy.
Andrea gave birth to Benjamin, a beautiful baby boy, now a year old. She is a fiercely devoted mom who shares custody and has a cordial relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Benjamin’s father. “Benjamin is playful, giggly, learns and picks up on a lot of things,” boasts his proud mom. “He is a ball of fun.”
Andrea reached out to Mike again who helped her land a summer job, upgrade some credits and apply to a Child & Youth Worker college program. She is living comfortably with her parents. “My mom and I have learned to communicate better and there is more respect. My parents are good grandparents and a good support now.”
Next week, Andrea is excited to take Benjamin to our annual Christmas party. Kids staying with us join alumni like Andrea, staff and their families in our celebration that includes caroling and a visit from Santa. Andrea glows when she recalls how her Covenant House “family” welcomed Benjamin on his first Christmas last year, and she is looking forward to the upcoming reunion.
With the arrival of Benjamin, Andrea has become a thoughtful and grounded young woman. She speaks of the future with the clear-eyed perspective of a loving mother. “I would like Benjamin to be a strong, smart child who always follows his heart and his dreams. I want him to grow up knowing he will always have his parents by his side and he can always be open with us,” she shares. “I can give him better advice from my experience. Mike was able to help me when my mom couldn’t, but Benjamin should know he always has his mom to come to.”