Covenant House // NYC Executive Sleep-Out
By: Gail Grimmett, SVP New York
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families. I’m feeling very thankful this year after a very enlightening experience I had just last week. I participated in Covenant House’s annual Executive Sleep-Out in New York to raise funds and awareness for homeless youth. Along with 180 other New York executives, I slept outside on the sidewalk near the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel, down the street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, in a sleeping bag with just some cardboard to serve as a cushion.
The night started with a candlelight vigil in Times Square where Brian Cashman, general manager of the New York Yankees and the chairman of this year’s event, spoke passionately about the mission to break the cycle of homelessness and the amazing services that Covenant House offers including counseling, legal support, education and job placement. Delta is a committed partner and supporter of Covenant House and some of our own Delta people have benefited from their services.
The most moving part of the evening was when Covenant House kids shared with us their own very personal stories. What struck me most is how inspiring these kids are. The youth that use Covenant House to better their lives are courageous. First they have the courage to leave whatever destructive environment they are living in — physical abuse, a dangerous human trafficking network, the chaos of life with a drug-addicted parent, or a house overflowing with rage. Then they have the courage to reach out to Covenant House for help. They brought a little levity to the night when they showed us a video of the surprised reactions from the kids when they found out a bunch of executives were going to sleep outside for Covenant House. They even offered us some tips on how to stay safe and warm!
The night was cold and not at all comfortable. I got little sleep, but I woke up that next morning feeling energized and excited about what we had accomplished with the Sleep-Out. At the 14 Sleep-Outs around the U.S. and Canada, we raised $3.5 million for Covenant House, with $1.3 million coming from the New York chapter.
This year I’m thankful that I got to experience a night of inconvenience to see what these kids go through. I would do it again for sure.