Being homeless is not easy. Being homeless in Alaska in the cold of winter is even harder. Being homeless in the cold of an Alaskan winter and being a teenager… Well, that’s the hardest reality anyone will ever have to face. But in Alaska, more than 17,000 teens have faced this reality in the last 30 years. Fortunately, for these youth, the Covenant House Alaska has been a source of warmth and a pathway off the streets.
Once a year, Covenant House hosts the Sleep Out to support at-risk youth and prevent teen homelessness. In addition to making donations, the fundraiser’s participants ‘sleep on the street for one night, so homeless youth don’t have to.’ More importantly, participants Sleep Out for one night so a homeless kid can have a chance at a better life.
“You can’t imagine the vulnerability, the sense of being alone, the fear and uncertainty, until you’ve experienced a cold night of sleeping outside,” recalls Melanie Osborne, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Chugach Alaska Corporation. “That brings it into perspective, that makes it real. Then you know you have to do something to make a difference for these kids.”
And Melanie and the 2017 fundraisers did their part to make a difference by raising awareness during the night-long vigil and raising funds for Covenant House Alaska. The nonprofit organization expressed the importance of this kind of community involvement, stating, “We rely on the support of our donors and volunteers to provide the care and services our young people need.” Seventy percent of Covenant House funding is raised through activities like the Sleep Out.
The Covenant House Alaska and the Covenant Houses throughout the United States serve a vital mission. Their Vision Statement says it all:
- Covenant House Alaska is to be the leader through collaboration with the community, in providing compassionate, sustainable services and shelter to homeless or at-risk youth.
- Homeless kids have rights. They have the right to a home – the right to food – the right to guidance and an education – the right to be free from sexual, emotional, or physical abuse – and the right to be free from exploitation. These kids have the right to be safe and – most important – to be loved.
Covenant House Alaska has provided this security for more than 45 years. Since opening its doors, Covenant House has established itself as a well-respected, lead agency that is an integral part of the Alaskan community.
“Chugach’s Core Behaviors are well represented in this nonprofit,” Melanie noted. “Especially building community, which has to start with our supporting our youth in crisis.”