When I turned 18, I was kicked out of my home and then bounced from house to house, wherever I could find a safe place to sleep. In spite of all that, I found a job with UPS. I was earning money and able to help pay room and board at a friend’s home. But it became clear to me that my friend had addiction issues. She would regularly tell me to get out if I didn’t pay more money. I knew I was never going to be able to find my own place if she kept taking most of my paycheck each week. That is when I heard about Covenant House Pennsylvania and went there in December 2018.

     

I was nervous and anxious about going to a shelter. But I became more relaxed as time passed, and I’m very grateful to Miss Jasmine for being my biggest support during my time at the shelter. I was able to take advantage of the many services Covenant House has to offer. Working with the educational and vocational team, I was able to find a job as a home health aide, a job that I am incredibly passionate about. I also took the opportunity to meet with Dr. Lydia, the psychiatrist at Covenant House PA. Dr. Lydia really helped me to better understand my past and its impact on my life.

     

I moved to ROP (Rights of Passage, Covenant House PA’s transitional housing program) in March 2019. It was a great first year. I continued to grow and learn how to take care of myself better, and I became more independent with the support of the staff at ROP.

     

But then came 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a challenging year.  As a home health aide, I was an essential worker, so I continued to work full time in the early days of the pandemic.  In April, I was diagnosed with COVID-19. I first thought it was my seasonal allergies, but I became worried when I lost my sense of smell. Miss Natalie helped me to get a test scheduled at the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia Health Clinic at the shelter. Lucky for me, the worst of the symptoms were the loss of smell and some other allergy-like symptoms.

     

The worst part of getting COVID-19, for me, was the isolation I felt while in quarantine. Not being able to take care of myself, run errands, or work was very tough. But Miss Natalie did my food shopping for me and made sure I had everything I needed. Miss Natalie even borrowed a sewing machine, so I could practice a new hobby while in isolation. I actually made a pillow while in quarantine - though I’m a long way away from being a fashion designer. I also have to thank my primary [case manager], Mr. Dex, for always being there for me in tough times and helping me work through them.

     

After recovering from COVID-19, I returned to work and was given a new client. However, this client proved difficult to work with. When the Black Lives Matter protests began again in late May, it became even worse, as my client began to openly spew hateful and racists remarks at me. I ended up quitting the job in June because it was taking a toll on me, mentally. I didn’t really feel that the agency supported me. Luckily, through Covenant House PA’s workforce program, I was able to pick up a job at Amazon to support myself these last few months.

     

Even though my last client was a horrible experience, I truly enjoy working with seniors and helping them maintain their independence. I love helping them see that there is so much they can still do for themselves. I really like hearing their stories from the past, learning recipes, and picking up the little bits of wisdom that they have to share. I really want to find a new job working with seniors again because I really miss it. I am also excited to begin looking for my own apartment and making plans to leave ROP soon. I am so grateful that Covenant House was there for me when I needed them. I don’t know where I’d be today without their support.

 

Gia

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