Based in Detroit, Covenant House Michigan is a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides hope to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth throughout the state. I’m proud to say I’ve been involved with the organization since 1983, and now serve as chairman of the board. Every year, we “sleep out” for one night to raise awareness and funds for homeless youth in our community.
Covenant House Michigan is part of the larger, Covenant House International, founded in 1972 and based in New York. The faith-based program was created to address the needs of homeless youth, but Covenant House is much more than just a shelter. In the Detroit area alone, the homeless youth population is estimated to be more than 5,000. The organization’s mission is to connect with youth who are open to receiving help.
We’ve seen a range of stories that are extremely sad, including physical and sexual abuse, as well as lack of family support. These issues give the organization even more drive to seek out kids who want to make a change in their life for the better.
Across the U.S. and Canada last week, men and women, including myself and Blue Cross Vice President of Finance Paul Mozak, slept out for one night, with the goal of raising critical funds and awareness for this cause. Ultimately, Covenant House Michigan wants to make sure these kids have a safe place to stay every night, and sleeping out is just one part of that mission.
The Sleep Out took place on Thursday, November 17, 2016, at Covenant House Michigan, marking the third year it’s been held in Detroit. It’s such an eye-opening experience, putting ourselves in these children’s shoes for one night. We had the opportunity to talk to some of the kids from Covenant House, build awareness for these youth, and raise funds to keep the mission going. Fundraising went extremely well this year, as we raised more than $300,000 for the cause.
The organization offers several programs to give the kids an opportunity for a brighter future, including Caritas, which is a program designed to meet the immediate needs of homeless youth. This 90-day program addresses situations such as sexual assault, malnutrition and hypothermia, in addition to other unfortunate circumstances requiring recovery. Rights of Passage, a long-term, transitional living program, is also available and designed to break the cycle of homelessness. This program focuses on getting kids back in school, completing job training, and instilling an independent, life routine to ensure a successful future off the streets.
For more information on the Covenant House Organization and available programs, please visit www.covenanthousemi.org.
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Photo Credit: Brandon Burbank & courtesy images