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A Message from the Executive Director

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

Sheldon Pollett, Executive Director at Choices for Youth

Gratitude is in huge supply at Choices for Youth these days. In the face of a public health crisis that few of us thought we would ever have to live through, the resiliency of our youth and staff has left us feeling incredibly privileged to do the work we do. For many of us in Newfoundland and Labrador, this experience has led to tremendous stressors and challenges as we navigate day-to-day life, inside and outside our homes.

For our youth and vulnerable families, their existing struggles and needs have not diminished. Instead, their challenges are compounded by the fact that they do not have the resources and supports that many of us have to adjust to the realities of life during this global pandemic. In some cases this means being unable to connect with family members and children because they do not have access to the technology and internet to make this possible. In other cases, physical distancing and necessary safety measures are leading to increased isolation and decreased mental wellness.

Medical care kits distributed to Momma Moments participants

As many of us would never want to imagine, this is an incredible hardship that is both traumatic and long lasting for individuals and families who have already been through so much. It also includes challenges for youth and families who are experiencing food insecurity. Since the beginning of the pandemic, CFY has seen an increase in the number of individuals and families needing daily assistance to receive healthy meals as they often do not have the means or resources many of us take for granted. This is similar to what many other agencies and community partners are witnessing; more people needing more services on a scale that we've never seen before.

Each of our staff and programs has stepped up and adjusted to help our community as much as possible. Where possible, our programs are now delivering daily meals to youth and families as a way to support healthy nutrition, and also to have contact that is safe and meaningful. This personal connection is an incredibly important aspect of our shifted program model as youth and young families continue to work towards their personal goals while also dealing with the stressors associated with COVID-19. We are grateful for a staff team that is committed to helping young people through some of life's most challenging times.

Staff and youth at the Choices Shelter do a site clean-up while practicing physical distancing

Though there has been hardship, there has also been joy! As has always been the case at CFY, our supportive interactions with youth and young families continues to leave smiles on our faces. Whether it's celebrating a youth's birthday, the offer of a listening ear, support for families who miss their children, or navigating mental health concerns -- youth have always been the most rewarding part of our organization. Our work, and the resulting progress and resiliency that we see in young people every day, is possible because of the tremendous outpouring of support from our community. In every way, our community is a part of each and every journey at CFY.

We know that life during this global pandemic is a tremendous hardship for vulnerable youth and families. The way in which our teams and our community continues to step up their efforts to be a part of the support we can offer is truly inspiring. It is the piece that fills us with pride in our organization, and gives us confidence that it will all be okay as we move forward together. -Sheldon


Sheldon Pollett is the Executive Director at Choices for Youth.

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