Last night, 49 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) slept out for the 5th time and was joined by Vikram Vij (Vij’s Restaurant), ABC’s The Bachelorette’s Kaitlyn Bristowe, and they were joined by 46+ other sleepers who at last count had raised over $615,370.00!
The lead fundraisers were Chef Matt Stowe and Ryan Moreno, CEO, both of the Joseph Richard Group. Matt Stowe said “I have worked with Covenant House for a couple years now and the job they do is amazing. The support they offer to the youth not only in helping them get off the street but giving them the guidance and direction so when they leave they have the necessary foundation to succeed in life is very inspiring. Ryan Moreno added that “Covenant House, solely focused on helping our youth, should be celebrated and supported whenever and wherever possible. I was overwhelmed and every so proud of the resounding support we received and the continued contributions coming in.”
The evening began with the participants getting to know each other and touring our female Crisis Program and Drop-In Centre. A youth panel consisting of three current Covenant House youth shared their stories and the circumstances that led to their homelessness. One youth recalled living in his car and described the feeling of terror he felt each night hoping that no one would break in and harm him. Another young person recalled the profound loneliness he experienced as a homeless youth and how a kind look or smile from a stranger often made all the difference to him.
After waking up this morning (many didn’t get much sleep), the participants took part in a group reflection exercise, describing what the experience meant to them. The Sleepers 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, feeling exposed and vulnerable out in the open.
Big thank you to all our Sleepers and their supporters! There is still time to support the Sleep Out: Executive Edition. Click here to donate to the event or to a specific sleeper.