Last night, 39 local executives, community leaders and celebrities slept outside in solidarity with the hundreds of young people who call Vancouver’s streets home, to raise funds for Covenant House Vancouver’s Crisis Program.
Bob Lenarduzzi (President, Vancouver Whitecaps), Dennis Skulsky (President & CEO, BC Lions), Interior Designer Jillian Harris, and several local media personalities were joined by 35 other sleepers who together raised $385,374 for our Crisis Program. The lead fundraiser, Sheldon Vance, was once a client of Covenant House, and kicked off the campaign with a gift of $25,000 which was followed by an additional $28,000 donated by private donations.
The evening began with the participants sitting down to a wonderful dinner prepared by Covenant House’s kitchen staff (who prepare over 100,000 meals each year). Then, the sleepers participated in roundtable discussions with Covenant House youth who shared their personal experiences and provided tips for braving the elements.
Unlike previous years which were below freezing, last night was very wet. Of the 39 sleepers, 6 stayed out the entire night, soaked right through. Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi slept out for the 3rd time and commented that the rain made it a totally different experience.
After waking up this morning (many didn’t get much sleep), the participants acknowledged that sleeping outside for one night does not compare to what it is really like for youth who must do so night after night, some while holding down a job and going to school. The sleepers did however, get a glimpse into experiencing the cold and wet, feeling exposed and vulnerable out in the open.
A huge thank you to all of our sleepers!
Tonight executives, public figures and well-connected leaders in our community will sleep outside for one night in solidarity with those youth who may face many more cold, lonely nights until they find their way through the doors of Covenant House Vancouver.
From Anchorage to New York, Vancouver to New Orleans and in other major cities across North America, participants will raise funds from their companies, colleagues, friends and family to support the life-changing work that is being done to help young people leave the streets and begin new lives. These leaders will draw the attention of the larger business community and our nation to the problem of homelessness among young people.
Be sure to join in the discussion on Twitter using the hash tag #CHSleepOut. Participants in thirteen different cities across North America will be live tweeting about their firsthand experience sleeping outside.
Thanks to all our “Sleepers” and their supporters!
A supporter sent this encouraging message for one of our youth.
Jesse one of our Mental Health Clinician’s recently snapped a couple pictures of Walter our therapy dog hard at work. Walter snuggled with this youth a couple years ago when she was drug addicted and homeless. Walter is now snuggling with a sober, employed woman living in her own accommodation, who has been in a healthy, positive relationship for over a year.
Congratulations to the young lady for working hard to change her life around and thanks to Walter and Jesse for walking with her on her journey.