Covenant House's executive sleep out fundraiser goes virtual this year

Each November we light a candle for homeless youth at Covenant House Michigan in Detroit. In the cold, the community comes together to sleep outside, just a taste of what some of our young people - with nowhere to go deal with every day.

"They don't have parents, they don't have a lot of relatives, they don't have friends they can commiserate with," said Gerald Piro. But at Covenant House, they do have shelter, schooling, a job specialist to help them find work and a caring staff that wants to help them succeed.

"We're it and we need everyone's help to keep going," Piro said.

Their big fundraiser, the Executive Sleep Out, raised $400,000 last year as companies competed with one another to raise money. But COVID-19 means that same fundraiser can't happen this year.

So instead of lining the basketball court with cardboard boxes, they're asking everyone at home to figure out where they're going to sleep.

"We're hoping that this will attract more people since you're going to be sleeping in and around your home, maybe in your backyard, in a tent, in your garage, in the car. Again, some place that's going to remind them that these young people almost every night have to look for some safe place to sleep," Piro said.

"I think it gives you, as you're virtual, gives us an opportunity to include people that otherwise couldn't be included," said Jen Kirkpatrick, who plans on sleeping out this year. She works with Cisco Systems.

"If you have a chance to participate, it will change you. It will make you grateful for what you have, it will make you think about what you can give back and every little bit helps for these children," she said.

Covenant House encourages everyone to sign up and to get their friends and family involved. The virtual event means you can sleep out anywhere instead of coming to campus in support of the young people who are calling this campus home.

You'll be supporting those like 21-year-old Natalya White, who lost her job with a cleaning service because of COVID. She was sleeping on a friend's couch when she decided to come to Covenant House to get back on her feet.

"They're caring. They might be hard on you but that's that push that some of us just might need," White said.

It's a push - a promise - that we can all help Covenant House keep come November 19.

"They really try to help you as much as they can, any way they can. It's no way anybody should leave here without something," White said. 

If you'd like more information on Covenant House or the virtual sleepout, click here