A Holiday to Remember

Published: December 6, 2022

You know that feeling you get when you just nail it picking out a gift for someone? Alicia, a 10K Youth Worker, loves that feeling — especially when it comes from picking out gifts for the youth she works with. Alicia doesn’t like to ask what the youth in 10K want. “I like trying to figure it out. It adds meaning. It’s a point of real connection.” 

10K, or the 10K Supportive Housing Program at Directions Youth Services, is a collection of 10 apartments and a support system for youth who are exiting government care. In partnership with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, and The Kettle Society, youth workers like Alicia provide wrap-around supports and skills development for the program’s tenants.  

Most youth stay in 10K for over a year, so the staff really get to know them as individuals. Alicia has been doing this work for a few years and is still connected to many of the youth who have come through the program.  

Year-round, the staff bring their hearts and expertise to the work they do in order to create a sense of home for the program’s youth. This includes holiday celebrations. For the winter holidays, they have a big turkey or ham dinner with all the fixings. “It’s a hard time of year for everybody,” explains Alicia, adding “because a lot of youth aren’t with family or haven’t had nice holidays in the past. It can be tough.” But it’s so special to Alicia and the rest of the staff to be able to make the holidays they spend together an occasion to remember. 

“From the donations we get from through Caring Neighbours, we’re able to make someone’s holiday really special and meaningful.” 

There’s one client in particular who stands out for Alicia.  This new person had a lot of walls up, but all the staff knew she was really sweet. That year when it was time to shop for gifts, Alicia put so much care into choosing something personal for this young woman. She thought back on all the conversations they’d had and things she had noticed while spending time together. In December, the 10K family had their dinner together and everyone opened their gifts. Afterward, that sweet, guarded youth came up to Alicia and the rest of the staff. 

Alicia recalls, “She had tears in her eyes and said, ‘I can’t remember having a dinner like this and I can tell you guys really put a lot of thought into my gift.’ And she thanked us and gave us big hugs. All the youth were happy, but that one person – because it had been so tough getting them to open up – that was a real moment and it’s going to stay with me forever.” 

This kind of authentic connection fosters a sense of safety and, ultimately, community for program participants. This collection of apartments is a safe haven, a safe place for the youth to pursue their goals and figure out what’s next in life. And it’s a place for them to be seen by people like Alicia who are looking for the details to get to know them.  

Like Alicia said, donations are how we have the opportunity to make someone’s holiday really special and meaningful. Please help us make sure these youth feel seen and valued – be a Caring Neighbour