Someone to look up to

Andrea_thumbAndrea’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.”


5 thoughts on “Someone to look up to

  1. I just finished reading Andrea’s story and have tears in my eyes. I can’ t read the rest right now, but will tomorrow–or one more a day. I am so glad that Covenant House is doing such wonderful work. I have been a supporter since some time in the 1980′s. I have even dropped by and walked around the facillity. May God continue to give you His support. Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this. p.s. We are the parents of 6 adult married children
    and 20 grandchildren ageing from 30 to 13. And I know just how blessed we are when I read these stories. Bye again. Mrs. Dona O’Brien

    • Covenant House Toronto

      Thank you so much for your kind note. We’re very proud of Andrea and we’re glad you were moved by her story. Thank you for all your loyal support of the years. We feel privileged to work with the young people we serve, but it simply wouldn’t be possible without donors like you. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  2. This is a wonderful story… Motherhood is amazing and challenging, and I’m glad that Andrea seems to be handling it well! Benjamin is lucky to have her.

  3. I have read Please Help Me God by Sister Mary Rose McGeady this lead me to go web searching to see if Covenant House still existed. Thanks be to Almighty God it still does. My heart bleed for the challenges young people face because of the POOR CHOICE THEIR PARENTS or I should say ADULTS make. Every hurt or broken young person can become whole again if given love, guidance, security and a chance to take a deep breath and trust again. Well done Covenant House I know it is not easy. I mentor young people and have worked with them the results are awesome.

  4. First, Andrea, good luck in being a mom, and raise your boy better than your parents raised you. Second, Covenant what your doing, is AMAZING work repairing what irresponsible adults have destroyed, and helping all the young people of the world change there lives and there selves.
    Marina Carston lll

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