C-Level Executives Spend a Night on the Streets of Southeast D.C. in Support of Homeless Youth

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Covenant House Washington’s Executive Sleep Out Raises $60K and Helps Donors Experience Homelessness Firsthand

A group of sleepers at Covenant House Washington's 2012 Executive Sleep Out

Spending one night on the streets doesn’t come close to what homeless teens experience every day, but it’s an important starting point for executives in our community to get to the heart of this problem.

Last week, during National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Covenant House Washington hosted its first Executive Sleep Out, where 18 executives slept on the streets of Southeast D.C. in solidarity with homeless youth and raised over $60,000 in support of Covenant House Washington’s efforts to curtail the problems of youth homelessness in and around the nation’s capital.

The Sleep Out kicked off with a candlelight vigil, featuring local recording artists Reesa Renee and Gerald Scott & Company, which was followed by a reception and an opportunity for homeless youth to share their stories with sleepers, including Michelle Freeman of Carl M. Freeman Companies, Robert Egger of D.C. Central Kitchen, and Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.

“We know from experience that just one night leaves a lasting impact on those unaccustomed to the discomfort of sleeping on the streets,” said Covenant House Washington Executive Director Dan Brannen. “It's not just about writing a check. It's about trying to understand what it feels like to be homeless – even if just for a night – so that we can do something about it.”

This event, which took place simultaneously in 14 other cities across North America and collectively raised just over $2.75 million, offered donors the ability to experience firsthand what they’re seeking to prevent – while creating deeper bonds between the executives and the homeless teens who so desperately need their help. Many sleepers took to social media, using the hashtag #CHSleepOut to start conversations about the inspirational experience and the respect they have for those who experience homelessness on a daily basis.

“Spending one night on the streets doesn’t come close to what homeless teens experience every day, but it’s an important starting point for executives in our community to get to the heart of this problem and outline solutions,” said Guy Brami, principal of Washington, D.C.-based Gelberg Signs, who slept in a sleeping bag on a slat of cardboard during the Sleep Out.

In Washington, D.C., where the poverty rate for children and young people is the highest in the nation (30 percent), Covenant House Washington provides crucial services to support this population. In 2011 alone, Covenant House Washington:

  •     Served more than 40,000 meals to hungry young people and their children;
  •     Provided housing and sanctuary to 424 homeless young people and their children;
  •     Delivered educational support to 188 young people and their children;
  •     Helped 81 young people attain employment; and
  •     Kept 346 teenagers off the streets and out of harm’s way with its prevention services.

Covenant House Washington is a subsidiary of Covenant House International, the largest, privately funded nonprofit service organization serving homeless young people in the Americas. Covenant House Washington has been providing crisis, educational and work training, and long-term housing services to homeless youth in Washington, D.C. for 16 years. For more information on special events, accomplishments, programs and services please visit Covenant House Washington’s website at http://www.covenanthousedc.org.


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Alexis Lindsay

Carrie Fox
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