To our amazing Eva’s community,

March marked the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought change and hardship to the lives of many, touching each of us in Eva’s community, including our most vulnerable young people.

I’d like to take a moment of pause, to both reflect back on what we’ve achieved together in responding to youth homelessness, with resiliency, tenacity and courage, and to begin looking forward to the unique challenges and opportunities we still face as this pandemic continues to impact us all.

One year ago, while we didn’t have a roadmap to deal with the full impact of a global pandemic, we learned quickly how to adapt our programs and services with the support of our staff, including our frontline workers, our Board, donors and supporters.

We came together to be there for those most impacted by COVID-19:  youth at risk of and experiencing homelessness.

We opened and safely transitioned 34 of our youth to our Hotel Shelter sites, which have been put into place due to the pandemic, so that these youth, and subsequently the youth remaining at our shelters, were able to practice social distancing, while still receiving Eva’s full range of holistic services and supports.

Every one of you truly are #EvasHeroes. We are grateful for your unrelenting support to face the unknown head-on and your commitment to helping our youth, at a time when the pandemic has heightened their needs greatly.

As the pandemic persists, we remain concerned about the well-being of our young people. We know that homeless youth populations are disproportionately represented by LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, newcomer, black and racialized young people, who face systemic barriers that can impact their mental health.

We also know that experiencing the heightened emotions that occur during a public health crisis can be re-traumatizing and destabilizing for young people, many of whom also experience mental health and substance use issues.

We have seen this firsthand at Eva’s.  As services and programs closed, many youth were left without positive community connections that are a key source of emotional connection and social support.  They have also experienced high unemployment, income loss, education disruption, and inaccessible housing, all of which impact their mental health and personal development.

Moving forward, we must thoughtfully plan for how best to help the community of youth we support to actualize their potential to lead productive, self-sufficient and healthy lives.  We will do this by:

  • Developing and implementing an organizational-wide diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy, centering the needs of black youth, so that all people are treated equitably in the work of Eva’s mission
  • Fully embracing technology so that our crucial services can continue to reach and help the youth we serve
  • Building back and strengthening services for young people who have experienced trauma and are in need of specialized trauma therapy
  • Reconnecting with essential community partners so that young people have a continuum of care in their communities

The months ahead will continue taking us on an unprecedented journey.  But just as we could not have weathered the storm this far alone, we will continue to rely on your critical support to help young people create a brighter, more prosperous future for themselves.

Together, we can rebuild, renew and reconnect in the shared vision of ending youth homelessness.

Yours in community,

Louise Smith

Interim Executive Director

Louise Smith, Interim Executive Director, Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth

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