“No matter what, even when you’re stuck in a dark cave, there’s always some source of light at the end of the tunnel.”

Olivia grew up in a foster home. Like many young people who are involved in the children’s aid system, the time arrived when support came to an end and she had to leave that familiar place. But she didn’t have anywhere else to go. “I wasn’t ready to be completely alone because I deal with mental health issues,” she says. “I don’t feel safe being completely on my own.”

She applied to live at Eva’s Phoenix and soon got a call that a safe space would be available for her. Olivia was excited to be a part of Eva’s because she knew about the programs offered to young people there. She knew she needed to learn an array of life skills she hadn’t learned before, things like cooking, budgeting, and problem-solving with roommates. Coming to Eva’s would not only give her the place to stay that she needed. It would also be an incredible opportunity.

In the townhome-style accommodations of Eva’s Phoenix where five people in each house have their own bedrooms and share a bathroom and kitchen, Olivia learned that she appreciates living with other people. “I like seeing another face when I wake up and come home,” she explains.

On top of that, Olivia found the staff team easy and safe to talk to about all kinds of things. She took advantage of the employment training and completed her Smart Serve Certification as a tool for the future. While at Eva’s Phoenix, she got her first paying job and received helpful workplace coaching so she could maintain a good relationship with her manager. She learned how to save and sharpened her “thrifty skills” living on a budget.

As Olivia now prepares to leave Eva’s, she feels so much more prepared to handle whatever comes her way. She knows she wants to get employment in finance and one day live on her own. “Even though I’m in a homeless shelter right now,” she says, “I still find ways to make my life more positive.” Her room is full of colour and she often wears her Japanese fashion to lift her spirits.

If Olivia were able to send a message other young people dealing with tough times, she would share a message of hope. “No matter what, even when you’re stuck in a dark cave,” she says, “there’s always some source of light at the end of the tunnel.”

16 AND 24

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