Two months ago, a group of young professionals got together to raise money for Covenant House Homeless Shelter in Southeast DC. Our goal was to raise $30,000 before April 12th. Fast forward to today, we’ve surpassed our goal!! This past Friday night we all gathered in Southeast DC to finish out our mission and sleep outside just as hundreds and thousands of homeless youth do every single night. We wanted the youth to know that we are here for them, we care for them, and that they are not alone!
We were taken on a tour of the crisis center where many teens first come once they become homeless. There, we met some amazing staff members of the Covenant House who explained the process to us. You can see that it’s not about the paycheck here, it’s about helping these young people transition into the real world and the society that might have dismissed them, but not Covenant House… they care.
After the tour, we had a chance to engage in some group activities and round-table discussions with some young people who are homeless and have been for a while. These are just normal young people who were placed in difficult situations in their households, and the best thing for them was to come to Covenant House. They’re no different than we were at that age. They go to school now, they work, and they’re trying to move forward with their lives. Their ambition and positive outlook on life is just amazing. I find myself sometimes complaining about the small things but after talking with these kids, trust me, our problems are nothing compared to theirs. I honestly don’t know if my spirit is that strong to go through what they’re going through.
Finally it was time to sleep out. With nothing but a cardboard box and a sleeping bag, it was time to go to “bed”. It wasn’t the fact that it was really cold, or that laying on hard concrete was extremely uncomfortable, it was the thought that thousands of people do this every single night. As I lay there with cold wind blowing over my face, looking up at the stars, I couldn’t help but think about the folks who won’t wake up the next day and have the luxury of going back to their warm homes like we will. Their struggle continues when they wake up, imagine having to go through that day in and day out. It took me back to the days when me and my family lived in a refugee camp and had to sleep outside. It reminded me just how blessed I am today and more than ever, I felt thankful. I was humbled.
So even though we helped the Covenant House in a small way by raising the money, they helped us in a bigger way of understanding the struggle that our youth is going through. I thank each and every person who donated the money, participated in the sleep out, or even just tweeted about the event. All we want is for people to open their hearts and their minds and realize that, yes this is real, it’s happening to our youth in the most powerful city in the world… and it needs to be addressed.
And to the staff of Covenant House, you are simply amazing. The love that your have in your heart is unmatched! Your job is extremely hard and many of us could never do it, but you were chosen to do it because God knows that those kids need YOU. I applaud you. Thank you.