Friday night was the Young Professionals Sleep Out for Covenant House. Last year's sleep out was at their Crisis Center in the Germantown section of the city. This year over 50 more young professionals participated so it was at the Friends Meeting House in Center City. Thanks to the generous people in our lives, MFD and I raised $3650 for this great cause. I've talked about Covenant House a lot in this space. Last year I spent some time describing the workshops around their five principles - immediacy, sanctuary, structure, value communication, and choice - last year, and you can read that here. I also described how it was physically and mentally to sleep outside for a night.
Today I want to highlight a few things I pink puffy heart love, some language lifted right from their site which I encourage you to check out:
The staff is big on meeting kids where they are. They don't judge them, they don't talk down to them, they don't try to fix them. They listen. And they care. You can see it in their actions and how the kids react to them. You can hear it in their voice, and threaded through the stories the kids tell about their experience at "the Cov."
Rites of Passage Program. I know when I went last year, I thought but do they stay at the center forever? No. They have a program that helps kids cross the bridge to independence. The goal of ROP is to assist youth in creating a structure for their life that promotes self-sufficiency through education and employment. They have classes on budgeting, cooking, and time management, as well as a monthly community service requirement. Youth in the program are also required to save money and pay rent monthly. At the end of the program, Covenant House returns 100% of their rent so they can use it towards a security deposit, furniture, rent, car, whatever. That made me smile so big - that's what my Dad and Carol did for me when I moved out. I'm so happy someone is looking out for them like that. When I donate, this is one of the areas I choose to send my donation to.
Outreach. They don't only serve the kids in the 70some beds at the Crisis Center. The Outreach Team is out on the street engaging with the youth they encounter, building relationships, and letting them know Covenant House is THERE. They might give a small bag of toiletries, a bottle of water, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, hats, gloves, blankets, and information about other service providers throughout the area that can help these people. They also present to other organizations to raise awareness about youth homelessness. Both last year and this year the Outreach Team presentation brought me to tears. The work they do every day is so simple - just basic human connection - but so difficult in these conditions, while being so very, very important to youth on the streets.
Human trafficking work. I'm not sure why people are under the assumption that human trafficking is a third world country thing - it happens here, all the time. Covenant House is the chair of the Philadelphia Anti-Trafficking Coalition. They also advocate for the passage of laws that better protect victims and punish traffickers via the Abolish Child Trafficking campaign. And of course they help trafficking victims by providing trauma-informed, resiliency-based residential care and supportive services. They are a huge dog in this fight against human trafficking. You can choose to direct donations to their anti-trafficking work.
Resilient and courageous youth. At the close of the night on Friday, the Associate Executive Director talked about the courage he sees from these kids every day. That really hit home with me. How can I not support that? These kids have seen more shit by age 21 than most of us will see in our lifetime.
Covenant House is 99.9% publicly funded. If you are inclined to donate, please click here and if you're local to a Covenant House, check out this link for in-kind (non-monetary) donations (please always call before sending donations), and this link if you're interested in volunteering.
Thank you thank you to everyone who donated to our Sleep Out - we love your hearts. We aged out of Young Professionals this year so will be moving on to another sleep out next year. I'd love it if you'd join us. You're all invited.