Monique, one of our Eva’s Heroes and front line staff, knows best how young people have been impacted by this pandemic.

Meet Monique, a Community Support Worker at Eva’s Place

Monique’s tasks have really shifted since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in. She is filling gaps wherever she can. Prior to COVID-19, a Doctor would come in weekly and do a medical clinic. Due to Eva’s pandemic protocol, it is now done virtually. So Monique has stepped in and is now doing things like getting urine samples from the residents and running them to the lab or going to get prescriptions. Basically being the arms and legs for the doctor.

More time in the shelter means increased food costs.

Before the COVID-19 protocol, the young residents at Eva’s Place would be gone during the day unless they were taking part in internal programming. Most would head out each morning to school, work, or to employment programs and placements. Lunch was rarely served, now that has all changed.

Now, there are 40 young people staying indoors around the clock and Eva’s is serving three full meals a day. Add to that the need for all the residents to physically distance themselves in the confined space and even meal time gets tricky.

“We have each meal staggered. Normally we would just have 40 people come and eat a meal. Now we have 13 people come and eat at a time, in waves of every 30 minutes,” says Monique. “The Cook used to be able to serve a meal by himself, now we help him to make sure the youth keep to time frames and maintain distance.”  

How has Monique’s job changed?

One of Monique’s duties was to get external facilitators to do workshops and training, but due to pandemic protocol, that has now been put on hold. That is now being added to the list of tasks being administered internally. “A popular activity that we can still do because people can spread out is bingo night,” says Monique. “We normally get donations that we can use for prizes, like perfume or hair supplies but we no longer can collect those due to COVID-19 concerns, so staff have been hitting the dollar store and buying candies and prizes themselves.”

The staff have been working together with an all hands on deck in whichever capacity is needed mentality. “I now help the frontline staff with day-to-day tasks. Whether it is doing intakes or helping with the front desk, or answering phones, I will do my part,” says Monique. “We used to have a therapist come in but that has stopped, so I try to provide what I can. My workload is busy in a different way.” 

And even tasks that she would normally do, now have a different spin. “I sometimes escort residents to appointments in the Dodge van, now there is no more riding shotgun due to physical distancing,” Monique says with a smile. “They have to sit two rows behind in the back, which I thought would be awkward but we still manage to chat and use that time to connect. We talk about their case plan and goals. That one-on-one time is always useful.”

Monique shares that her biggest challenge has been keeping the young residents physically apart in a very confined space.

“We have to continuously remind them not to sit too close together and not to share cigarettes. We are making sure that they sanitize their hands every time they come in. Like young folk everywhere, some take it very seriously, others don’t due to early media coverage, they believed that they couldn’t get it or that it wouldn’t hurt them.”

But the Community Support Worker says that the youth are so resilient. “The mood and the energy has been pretty positive considering that the youth have been stuck in a small space, all day every day. They are getting along. They are handling it really well, considering everything is closed and they don’t have much to do. Which is really nice to see.”

You can be part of ensuring that young people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic are supported!

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Lunch With Friends

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Harm Reduction Kit

Harm Reduction Kit

Many young people who are homeless are at high risk of overdose and serious illness. When they come to Eva’s, they need harm reduction support to help them deal with substance use challenges.

For $30

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Drinks with Friends

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Food for a Week

Feed a Youth for a Week

Young people need daily nourishment to develop, be healthy and well, and have energy to thrive. We want to ensure they get fresh, whole foods such as produce, meat, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, and dairy. Residents at Eva’s emergency shelter get three nutritious meals and two snacks a day.

For $63

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Dinner out with Family

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Life Skill Learning

Life Skills Learning

Prepare a young person to live their best lives and successfully transition to independent living. Youth get one-on-one and group learning in financial literacy, cooking and nutrition, housing, wellness, and communication and interpersonal skills.

For $99

Mithusan, a Youth and Services Worker at Eva’s Place. 

“Our big challenge now is checking in on everyone and making sure their mental health and their coping strategies are in place to deal with the stressful situation that they are in,” says Mithusan. “We have had to set up and provide the informal counselling pieces. Youth no longer have access to external counsellors, so we are trying to fill that gap.”

Monique, a Community Support Worker at Eva’s Place.  

“A popular activity that we can still do because people can spread out is bingo night,” says Monique. “We normally get donations that we can use for prizes, like a perfume or hair supplies but we no longer can collect those due to COVID concerns, so staff have been hitting the dollar store and buying candies and prizes themselves.”  

 Oseakina, a Recreation Coordinator at Eva’s Place.  

“They would be juggling school and working. Others like to volunteer.  Some are complaining of feeling unproductive and I can see that they are feeling down, ” says Oseakina. “But at the same time, the youth are courageous and resilient. I feel like we should be learning from the young people as well. Even though they are in a very vulnerable position, they know that they can make it through.”  


At Eva’s we provide shelter, transitional housing, and programming to help young people, who are aged 16-24 and experiencing homelessness, reach their full potential to lead productive, self-sufficient, healthy and inter-dependent lives.  Over the course of a year approximately 948 residents find shelter at Eva’s and we house 123 young people every night.


Eva Smith
  • Eva’s was founded in 1989 by Eva Smith under our original name, North York Emergency Home for Youth.
  • Eva Smith was a Jamaican immigrant and Black community leader who worked to address the disparate experiences of Black children in Toronto’s education system.
  • Through her work, Eva also shed light on hidden youth homelessness, showing decision-makers the scope of the problem and rallying supporters to do something about it.
  • In 1994, one year after Eva’s death and five years after the founding of the organization, Eva’s Place, the first physical shelter for young people was established.


Exterior of brick building, Eva's Place.

Eva’s Place – providing emergency shelter  

Exterior of Eva's Satellite building.

Eva’s Satellite – providing harm reduction services  

Eva’s Phoenix – providing emergency shelter and transitional housing for young people