I know this is hard to believe, but I just turned 31 and this was my first birthday that I felt like I could celebrate without feeling surprised I survived this long.
When I was 18, I was on the streets and I didn’t see any way out. I tried to stay with my family but it just didn’t work out. Neither did foster care.
I was sleeping outside every night, on park benches, or just walking around. You have to watch your back on the streets, so you really don’t get any sleep. And you are always hungry.
I finally walked into Covenant House. I was scared, and really not expecting much. But everyone was so nice and supportive, I could tell right away this place was different. I walked in and that is when things slowly started to change.
I was not an easy case. I came to Covenant House an angry kid. One of my case managers, Dave, would work on a plan for me and I would try to sabotage the plan. I remember my first job interview, Dave worked so hard to land it for me. Then I got on the bus and got so scared I turned right back around to Covenant House.
But Dave and everyone at Covenant House would not let me fail. They had patience. They let me fall. They let me try again. I started to think of Covenant House as less of a homeless shelter and more of a home. And I started to think of Dave and the other people here as my family.
Today, I work at a shipping company. In the first year, I was promoted twice because of my dedication and work ethic. And I learned that at Covenant House. I learned to be responsible, to care about my work, to care about other people, to make a difference.
I think about what Covenant House has meant in my life, and I can honestly say I think I would have been dead without this place and the staff. And I think the same is true for about half the kids that are there today.