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Gia's Story

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 for a room and board at a friend’s home. But it quickly became clear to me that my friend had addiction issues, and 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’s when I heard about Covenant House.

I was nervous and anxious about going to a shelter. But I became more relaxed as time passed, and was able to take advantage of the many services Covenant House offered. I took the opportunity to meet with Dr. Lydia, a psychiatrist who helped me to better understand my past and its impact on my life. And, working with the educational and vocational team, I found a job as a home health aide; a job that I am incredibly passionate about.

I moved to ROP (Rights of Passage, Covenant House’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.

Then came 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. As a home health aide, I was an essential worker and, in the early days, I continued to work full-time. In April, I was diagnosed with COVID-19. I first thought it was my seasonal allergies but when I lost my sense of smell, I asked Miss Natalie, one of my Covenant House case managers, to help me get a test scheduled.

Lucky for me, those were the worst of my symptoms. The hardest part about testing positive 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. She even borrowed a sewing machine so I could practice a new hobby while in isolation. I actually made a pillow! (Though I’m a long way away from being a fashion designer)

After recovering from COVID-19, I returned to work. I was given a new client who 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 racist remarks at me. The agency wasn’t supporting me, and I ended up quitting the job in June because of the toll it took on me, mentally. Luckily, through Covenant House’s workforce development 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 miss it, and really want to find a new job working with seniors again.

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.

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