Sleep Out and Save a Young Soul
By Sarah Martin
On November 15, Rye mom Laurie Jacobs is sleeping out on the streets of New York City to raise awareness and lifesaving funds to help end youth homelessness.
The endeavor is on behalf of Covenant House, a privately funded agency founded in 1972 that provides food, shelter, and crisis care for runaways and homeless youth.
Jacobs has been a volunteer at Covenant House in Manhattan for seven years. She worked in the day care center, so that the moms could attend job trainings, educational classes, and access the resources they needed to begin to change their lives.
As a participant of the Sleep Out, she will take part in a candlelight vigil in Times Square and also meet and hear stories from teens who have gone through the program. “Their stories are powerful and clarify for everyone why they are sleeping out and doing what they can to help end this crisis,” says Jacobs.
This will be Jacobs’ third year sleeping out. While she will have a sleeping bag and warm clothing to protect her from the cold, homeless youths often find themselves on the streets with nothing but the clothes on their back. That is why the doors of Covenant House are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
“Once I started my own family everything changed for me. Being a mother made me want to help so much more and I became emotionally attached to this work on a deep level,” says Jacobs.
The care is comprehensive at Covenant House, which is dedicated to providing the most effective evidence-based practices so that teens can be properly supported. It starts with street and van outreach where teens are offered a chance to get off the streets and be immediately provided with food and shelter. Through the intake process, youths also receive medical and psychiatric care.
Jacobs points out that homeless teens are at high risk for human trafficking, that traffickers target this population because they are easier to lure from the streets. In the U.S. close to 20 percent of homeless youth become victims of human trafficking.
This is why the dedicated staff don’t stop with meeting immediate needs, they also work to create a tailored plan to support each individual for the long-term that works to address all underlying issues, so that these teens can stay off the streets for good.
“Sometimes it’s easy to feel protected inside of a bubble,” says Jacobs. “This is a little thing that I can do to help support the life-changing work that Covenant House provides.”
So far, Jacobs has raised $2,100 of her $5,000 goal. To donate and get involved visit www.sleepout.org, click Donate Now and type in Laurie Jacobs.