Charity x COVID-19: Covenant House Vancouver - Nicola Wealth

Charity x COVID-19: Covenant House Vancouver


At this time, there are many people and issues that require immediate attention. Charities have adjusted the way they operate on a daily basis and many have had to make significant shifts to fulfill their particular missions. Unfortunately, many charities may not weather this storm.  

Our intention with this series is to share updates from a spectrum of charitable organizations to garner attention and inspire support for those in need.  

Charity Name: Covenant House Vancouver (CHV)

Established: 1997

Core Purpose & Mandate: To serve all youth, with absolute respect and unconditional love, to help youth experiencing homelessness, and to protect and safeguard all youth in need.

How is your organization impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our emergency response to COVID-19 has meant unexpected expenses including increased frontline and facility cleaning staff, more meals as youth are isolating in the residential programs 24/7 and purchasing protective equipment and supplies like masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and cleaning products.

We have also had to make several practical adjustments to our services and programs for the safety of the youth and front-line staff:

  • CHV made the difficult decision to close the indoor space of our Drop-In Centre due to safety concerns, but staff continue to provide meals, clothing, and hygiene supplies outside the front door of the new building at 1302 Seymour Street
  • We adapted our Outreach support so youth workers can deliver packaged meals, groceries, and supplies to youth who are living in Single Room Occupancy hotels or modular housing
  • Social Workers and Registered Clinical Counsellors are facilitating virtual counseling sessions and check-ins with youth
  • The male Crisis Program in our Pender Street building was challenged for space while trying to maintain safe physical distancing between youth and staff. In response, we converted our finance office into a second lounge for the youth to enjoy safely
  • Our non-frontline staff have been working remotely since March
  • Our Program Managers and COVID-19 Response Team continue to monitor occupancy levels regularly and adapt policies and procedures to ensure youth and staff are safe

How have your fundraising plans changed?

Two of Covenant House’ signature events, Sleep Out: Entrepreneurs Edition and Sleep Out: Mothers or Daughters have both been cancelled for the safety of our participants.  These two events, in addition to being critical for building awareness of our mission, also contributed to our annual revenue and we are seeking ways to recover that through other channels.

We are adapting the way we are communicating with our donors and community by utilizing video calls, video messages, and virtual visits. We are checking in with our donor family to make sure they are doing ok and reaffirming that their support is needed now more than ever.

We are currently investigating the possibility of a virtual Sleepout event and are focusing our annual June matching challenge on our response to COVID-19. It is our hope that through both of these and unexpected generous donations from our Covenant House family we will be able to provide our frontline staff the funding they need to continue to deliver excellent service in this new normal of social distancing.

If you could share one story or message with our community, what would it be?
The flexibility, dedication, and drive of our front-line staff during this crisis has been outstanding and has meant we are able to continue prioritizing the safety and care of the youth we serve in spite of the challenges we are facing. Thanks to the spirit they bring to their work, we are managing to keep the youth motivated and well cared for during this period of uncertainty.

How can one support your organization most effectively?
At the moment an undesignated gift to our operating expenses is the most effective way to support us. This allows us to be flexible in how we distribute our funds, and to ensure your gift is directed to where it is needed most by our Programs and services staff at that given time. This helps us to respond quickly to changes that develop and adapt our services as needed.

Can donations be transferred electronically? If so, how?
Absolutely. Donations can be made online via our website.