You may or may not know that I slept on the street last month to raise funds for Covenant House Vancouver on Drake and Seymour.
We met at 7:30pm and listened to moving stories from people who use the House and we found out how they ended up there. I was given a letter upon entering and was asked to be the first speaker. It was from someone that came to the House and the letter told their story. I had to give it back to them: despite my hardened exterior I knew that if I started reading this I wouldn’t be able to get through it without choking up.
We got changed at 10pm and I had two giant cups of warm tea – things that you’re not going to have the option of doing if you are homeless. I put my cardboard down at 10.30pm and had a good long look around the alleyway. ‘Piece of cake’, I thought, ‘I’ll be asleep in no time with all these clothes I have on.
Fjallraven on West Broadway had heard what I was doing and gave me a jacket, toque and gloves – that was super kind of them and I literally don’t think I could have done it without all of these clothes. It was at least -1C and I heard rumours of it being -3C. I was wearing long johns, two pairs of socks, two shirts, fleece and boots etc but I didn’t sleep a wink last night: not one second.
My head was itchy from the toque that I had on and I could feel my face freezing as I lay down in the alley, looking up at the stars. I’d put earplugs in, which I thought were my secret weapon, but they didn’t block out the sirens, trucks, horns and people shifting around. What stressed me out most were my feet – they were very cold and at noon today they still feel cold.
I just wanted it to end but it was only 2:10am as the wind blew over the cardboard that I was using as a wind block and the brutal sub-zero air whipped across my face. I thought about the kids that end up on the street: they probably come from a home with a lot of issues and they have not been equipped to handle day-to-day life. They probably have never been loved like you or I and have made some choices in life that haven’t worked out.
We see them all the time in Vancouver but it’s almost like they don’t exist: we walk around them or look the other way. I, like most people, have thought ‘just get a job!’. Some of the kids at the House need to deal with mental health issues, addictions or need a break from step-fathers or mothers who themselves have all kinds of problems. Some have been in foster care all of their life: thankfully there are foster givers in the world but I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to grow up like that.
I only spent one night on the street and came to the conclusion that in this weather I would lose my mind within 48 hrs and make some REALLY bad choices to survive. The people that take the youth in at Covenant House do amazing work. There are 126 people that work there: please find a way to help them out.
Finally I would like to sincerely thank everyone that donated to sponsor me and would like to thank Fjallraven for the warm clothes and Covenant House for inviting me to do this.