Nearly seven months into the pandemic, and Youth Haven is making the best of it.
After it was apparent COVID-19 required a certain level of physical distancing to help halt the spread, those running the shelter for youth experiencing homelessness knew something had to change. “It was different for us to have to move from the shelter to a hotel, we were grateful, mind you, but we really didn’t know what to expect,” Youth Haven Executive Director Lucy Gowers told Barrie 360 during a Thursday afternoon gathering at Youth Haven.
“We’ve had challenges,” she reflected. “I think most of the challenges that we’ve had, is really impressing on our youth, the severity of the pandemic, and the seriousness of the of COVID-19. And that has made it difficult for them to want to stay in their hotel rooms.” Gowers points out, were they at the shelter, its residents would be able to come and go more regularly.”
“So the challenges, of course, still exists because we still want to keep our youth safe. And they’re still not really understanding again, the seriousness of COVID-19. But we press on, and we impress on them that we’re here for them,” she added.
Gowers points out the pandemic has stretched Youth Haven’s resources quite thin. “Our opportunities to fundraise have been decreased immensely,” she said. “Our fundraising activities, of course, have had to change and they’re not exactly the way that they used to be prior to COVID-19. Being able to receive monetary donations from our community truly does make a profound impact on everything that we’re able to do.”
Gowers says Thursday’s media conference was more of an expression of gratitude. “This is more of an update to basically let people know that we have been in a hotel for seven months, that we are doing well, that’s because of their support and their generosity. And it’s an opportunity for us to say thank you. It’s a time of thanksgiving and we just wanted to take that opportunity to show our gratitude.”
Seventy youth have accessed the emergency shelter since they transitioned to a hotel in April. Sixteen have since been moved to permanent housing while Gowers was pleased to report 10 of her kids have been reunited with their families over the course of the pandemic.
Those who wish to assist Youth Haven can do so online.