Calm and Composed in a Crisis

Covenant House Public Safety Team - Adam, Sean, and Monique  | Covenant House

So much of what Anthony Conley does as director of support services at Covenant House California (CHC) is about excavation and building. That may sound odd, since he has nothing to do with the physical structures of our Hollywood campus. What Anthony is about is helping young people uncover the talents and skills they didn’t know they had and matching them to job and career opportunities where they can find their power. 

“Empowerment is allowing youth to chase their passion,” Anthony says. “That’s something we really focus on here, like having a whole buffet of opportunities that they can choose from and empower themselves in the direction they want to go.”

A lot of times, though, young people overcoming homelessness aren’t aware of their abilities or have learned not to value their talents. That’s where the work of excavation comes in.

“We look at their resume and we say, ‘How can we maximize that?’” he says. Maybe there’s a  skill a youth has listed that can get refined in a CHC internship position, or a talent, like gardening, that they learned at home or with a grandparent. Anthony may simply ask, “What are you passionate about?”

“Sometimes they don’t know, so then I might ask ‘Who do you follow on Instagram?’ or ‘Who do you watch on TV?’ That may trigger an interest or give us some insight into what they’re into, and then we can start leading them in that direction and open their eyes to what they really love to do,” he says.

Covenant House California provides a number of creative opportunities youth can try out as a career path, through their barber college, certified nurse assistant (CNA) program, and the new Digital Dove Academy, where young people hone technical skills related to graphic arts careers.

The other part of the equation is building relationships with corporate and nonprofit partners and volunteers who can open more doors and more opportunities that match the various skills, work experience, life experience, and passions of our young people. 

“My mission is to build partnerships with business owners, corporations, and other nonprofits to provide those opportunities of empowerment,” Anthony says, “and to be an advocate for our youth.” 

He spends considerable time pounding the pavement, meeting with partners and potential employers, and sharing with them how the young people at Covenant House will prove an asset to their businesses, bringing “intangibles” like loyalty, commitment, and perseverance.

“Let our Cov CREW be part of your crew,” Anthony tells prospective employers. CREW is an acronym for Creative, Resilient, Enthusiastic, Worthwhile, he explains, “because that’s what our young people are.”

He also shares with prospective employers that as our youth step into jobs and careers, they continue to count on the support they receive at Covenant House. “We really encourage our young people,” Anthony says. “We tell them: If something happens at work, come back and talk to us about it, so we can work through it with you.”

Employers and partners are responding with open positions and opportunities for training that meet young people overcoming homelessness where they are, so they can get to where they want to be.  Many volunteer to share the stories of their own career pathways with our youth, which may spark a new interest and open their eyes to possibilities they never considered.

“I’m truly hopeful,” Anthony says, “because there are people out there who want to provide these opportunities. I want them to know there are no barriers from Covenant House. We’re here with open arms, and we’ll take those opportunities for our young people.”

Shelter Is Only the Beginning

From crisis to care: Find out what it's like when a young person enters our doors.