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

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.”