Pam Bastedo is our Development Officer. She builds relationships and secures funding from our corporate, foundation and employee group donors. She also hosts corporate volunteers and visitors when they come to Covenant House.
I’m a fundraiser at Covenant House Toronto working with our corporate and foundation donors. On a daily basis I am communicating with some of Covenant House’s 200+ corporate and foundation supporters who help make our work possible.
It’s my job to explain why we need their support, where their donations go and how they are literally helping to change people’s lives. It’s my job to understand what drives the people and organizations that want to help and pair their interests with our programs. I also keep in touch to ensure they know the impact they are making on our kids.
It makes my day when I meet one of our donors who cares about the work Covenant House does just as much as I do. These people care about kids because they know how hard it is to face the “normal” challenges every teenager has to deal with growing up and how much harder it is for our kids coming from abusive homes. Our kids could be facing mental health issues, they could be aging out of foster care with nowhere to go, they could be fleeing a dangerous situation with nothing but fear for their future—every kid who comes to our doors has challenges that brought them here. By donating to Covenant House, our donors are helping us give these kids every opportunity imaginable to get off the street permanently. Donors help give our kids a chance at life.
We are fortunate today that a lot of companies make it a priority to give back to the communities where they work and live. It is important for them to show their community and employees that they care.
I feel so lucky to come to work every day and do something that I love and care about. Covenant House is comprised of almost 200 employees. Over 80% of staff are frontline workers working directly with the kids who need our help. The stories I hear from our youth workers and the youth who come across my path are what motivates me the most.
I remember when I first started working here almost two years ago and I sat in on one of the case management meetings where our staff goes through the files of each of our kids who are staying here. I learned about the tragic and horrific circumstances these youth had been through and was blown away by the love and care that goes into helping each one of them. Some of their stories absolutely make me tear up with sadness and then there are the stories which make me tear up with joy. During the meeting, one of the youth living in our Rights of Passage, our longer-term residence program, burst into the meeting, because he was so ecstatic that he just got into university and had to tell his youth worker right away. It’s these stories that motivate me and it’s my job to share them with our donors.
When I organize volunteer days for our corporate employee groups to come here, there are always two “in awe” moments that occur. The first one is when they walk through our building and see all our programs and realize that we are so much more than a shelter. And the second one is when they find out that it costs $20-million for us to keep our doors open annually.
These are my favourite moments because people get to see firsthand where their support goes. And they also realize why it costs $20-million. It’s to help pay the bills to keep our lights on, the cupboards stocked and our incredible staff who work around the clock to help the kids who come to us because they want to change their lives.
One of the questions I always get asked is how do we measure our success. I always take a deep breath before I respond…Well, that is a really good question and there is no easy answer. It’s not easy to quantify what your support means to us and to our kids. We have hundreds of success stories every year. I could tell you about the number of kids who got jobs, enrolled in job training programs, graduated from our culinary arts training program or attended our onsite high school. I could tell you the number of meals we serve and the number of beds that are full every night. But the really impactful stuff—the number of lives we help save, the relationships our youth workers build with our kids, the families we help put back together, the kids who grow into confident young adults, the kids who finally for the first time in their lives have someone who believes in them…well that’s harder to count.
When we have people who really understand the impact that this agency has on the young people we serve, they feel empowered to give money confidently to support our programs. They realize the value and power they have to help the 3,000 kids who come to us for help each year. Every donation, no matter which program it supports, is playing a vital role in changing lives and sometimes saving lives. I believe we are all honored to be a part of this.