Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Five Things: Covenant House Sleep Out 2017

I truly believe that we belong to each other and are responsible as human beings for helping those that do not have the love, support, and encouragement that most of us had growing up in our homes. Covenant House Pennsylvania is an organization that takes on that responsibility and is a place I support wholeheartedly. Their work is tremendous and if you get the opportunity, please check out their facebook page, sign up for their newsletter, or participate in a sleep out and get to know some of these kids. Their stories will break your heart and their outlook now after being in the Covenant House family will put it back together again. They don't only get the safety of a place to stay right now, they get love, rules, education, life skills, and the way to a path that makes their future something they can be proud of.

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.

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17 comments:

  1. I always love when you recap this event. I love that you sleep out and strongly support this cause. My dad had a really roigh childhood, and I always wish something like this was around for him when he was growing up.

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  2. Absolutely amazing cause, and yay for all the money raised! You and MFD are true rockstars, and the world needs more people like you guys <3

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  3. Their Rites of Passage program sounds so amazing! That's awesome that they give the rent money back to the kids when they move out!

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  4. I remember you talking about this last year and thinking it's such an awesome organization. The sleep out is such a great way to raise money and awareness and amazing job with your donations!

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  5. This sounds like such a fabulous organization, I especially love the Rites of Passage program! Good for y'all for doing the sleep out! I have a friend here who does it and I gave a little to her. Such a good reminder that there really is so much good in this world.

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  6. I think it's so wonderful that you and your husband support the organization not only monetarily, but through volunteering and activities like the sleep out. So amazing!

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  7. Man... I love this so much. I so love the program they run to help these kids learn what it is to live on their own with the Rites of Passage program. So smart. I love places like this exist. So thankful for them.

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  8. My whole long comment just disappeared. Jmj. God bless and heal all of these kids. This is my go-to charity. And the human trafficking. Jesus. Thanks for making me so proud every day and grateful for my offspring being good citizens. God and Goddess speed to these kids and Covenant House.
    Love. Your. Momma.

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  9. It hurts so much to see living beings struggle alone or go through life feeling unloved. In our small town we have a homeless shelter and recovery house and soup kitchens, but nothing on the scale of Covenant House. I think it's awesome that you and MFD are so involved! What an experience that is to sleep outside and experience that kind of lifestyle first hand...

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  10. I love that you guys do this and advocate on behalf of programs for kids who have almost no one advocating for them. I wish more places like this existed.

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  11. What a great organization. There was a similar program connected to my school district in Alaska. They did whatever they could to help students in these situations.

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  12. I will have to look to see if there is a Covenant house chapter in my area...such a great cause! I don't believe Orlando has a huge problem with homeless teenagers as in PA or bigger cities but there's no doubt a ton of homeless families and individuals in general. The human trafficking situation is so scary but it's so true, it's happening "behind our eyes" and I wish law enforcement would put more effort into investigating these situations.

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  13. What a great organization. I'm happy to donate to something as worthwhile as this :)

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  14. You know my rule is 'I only donate to animal causes' but you also know I donate to you guys for this each year and yes it's because they do good work but mostly it's because you're so passionate about it. So keep blogging, keep doing what you do to spread the word because it works.

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  15. The Covenant House sounds like a wonderful organization! I love how passionate you are about it too.

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  16. i already support covenant house as you know, but now i support them even more. the rites of passage program sounds amazing.

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  17. So grateful to help this cause; thank you for all you do!

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Tell me what you think, leave a comment! I'll reply to you via email if you have an email associated with yourself, otherwise, check back here for my reply. Thank you and good day. I SAID GOOD DAY.

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