For as long as he could remember, Logan felt as though he were only a burden to his parents. Their volatile relationship ended when he was very young. His father would often leave their small town, but when he returned, he would be violent and verbally abusive to Logan. His mother was neglectful and emotionally unavailable. She would disappear for long periods without telling him when she would be back. So by the time he was only 10 years old, he was already a veteran at fending for himself. He taught himself to cook and made his way to school every day.
Many years later, when he came to us, Logan already possessed many of the life skills that some of our other kids still needed to learn. However, he was unable to trust adults or handle his emotions.
Logan’s fractured relationship with his parents had made him distant, angry and self-destructive. He began drinking at an early age to cope with his troubled childhood. At 14, Logan was pronounced dead on arrival due to alcohol poisoning and hypothermia, then revived in the hospital. He regained consciousness in time to witness his parents’ violent argument in the hospital being broken up by police. Still so young, he made the mature realization that he would have to make better decisions without expecting any guidance from his parents.
Logan graduated from high school and attended his ceremony alone. His mom moved away again with little warning and he made his way to Toronto for the promise of big-city opportunities. He earned his security guard license, found a place and worked at a grocery store. His life seemed stable and independent, but emergency knee surgery with no family support while he convalesced put him out of work and he became homeless.
At Covenant House, we work hard to earn the trust of youth who have been betrayed by the adults in their lives. The revelation that adults can offer them consistent stable support and love without expecting something in return will often propel kids to succeed.
At first, Logan was cautious, but he started to let his guard down when he realized that our youth workers understood his struggles. He opened up to several staff members who helped him to contend with his feelings about his childhood. He also bonded with other youth. He found that their stories of hardship let him feel for others in a way that is difficult when you can only focus on your own survival.
“At Covenant House, I learned empathy from the other youth. I met kids with autism and learning disabilities and their parents just left them. I saw what they went through,” Logan recalls. “I’m not hard anymore like I used to be.”
Logan stayed with us for nearly a year in our longer-term residence. He quickly found work in security. “I taught myself discipline at Covenant House,” Logan says. “Staying here taught me to be myself and utilize everything I have. Life is what you make out of it.” Earlier this year, our housing team helped him find an apartment and move in with a friend.
Today, Logan works as a security guard at a hospital that handles mental health emergencies. He helps the frontline workers with patients who are having psychotic breaks and other crises. His compassion and calmness under pressure from surviving so much chaos in his young life makes him well-suited to the stressful, but important work.
“Mental health issues affect all walks of life. It makes me feel grateful for my situation. It could have been so much worse,” Logan shares. “It puts my own life in perspective. Also, I’m making a difference to people.”