My very first interaction with a Covenant House was years ago when I was going to college to be a drug and alcohol counselor. I applied at Covenant House Hollywood and was accepted to be an intern, but I ended up interning at an adult recovery program. I actually remember that first tour of their facilities in Hollywood with adjoining apartments. I was extremely impressed.
Since I started traveling to fight homelessness I have visited a few Covenant House locations across the country, and I can honestly say that each one has a spirit of excellence and feels like home! I love walking into a Covenant House.
I have also become internet friends with their president and CEO, Kevin Ryan, who is tops on my hero list. Kevin is not one of those sit-behind-a-deck executives and is always traveling someplace to help people. I think as I type this Kevin is in South America. For the last few years we just miss each other in cities as we both travel, and someday soon I hope to be able to spend some time with Kevin in real life. Until then, I will continue to admire his work, especially when disaster strikes.
Covenant House has 'homes' in 6 different countries, with the majority of them being right here in the United States. As far as I know, Covenant House is the only national provider of services to homeless youth and youth that are 'at risk' of being homeless.
I started off the day traveling downtown St Louis with Covenant House Missouri's outreach team. Having once lived and worked in St Louis, I know the area. I have to say, I was so very impressed with the two women running their outreach team and how they interacted with homeless youth.
In this video interview Suzanne Wagener, Executive Director of Covenant House Missouri, explains that the number one cause of homelessness in the youth they see is family dysfunction, which means someone in the family has a substance abuse issue or mental heath issue, and the youth either run away or are thrown away. It's always messed me up knowing that a large percentage of homeless youth are never even reported missing.
Please support Covenant House as they continue to help homeless youth. Someday I hope to be able to say I have visited every Covenant House. Oh, and Kevin, some day we will connect in real life! :)
This Invisible People road trip is made possible by Sevenly and Virgin Mobile USA, who are partnering to end youth homelessness through Virgin Mobile USA's initiative, RE*Generation. For more information please click here.