From Homelessnes to Hope
I tell you my story with hope - hope that it will move you to support other homeless young people like me at Covenant House Pennsylvania.
I always had a difficult relationship with my father, the only parent I had in this country since I came here from Haiti in 2004 – and, in the middle of these conflicts with him, my younger self made a bad decision. I broke into a house so I could wash my clothes. This was the day that changed my life forever.
Soon I was in an 8x8 cell, with so many different cellmates I find it hard to remember them all. I stayed there for nine long months. But, one day, I thought things were about to change. I received the good news that I was eligible for release. All I needed was one simple thing to begin my life again: a note from my father saying that I had a place to live. That was all. But he wouldn’t take my calls or respond to my letters. I spent an extra thirteen months in jail.
Finally, on a Saturday morning, April 25, 2015, I left through those triple electric gates and wanted to cry. I had waited a long time for this, but I soon woke up to the cold reality that I was homeless. I found that being homeless on the streets was as harsh as being incarcerated. I remember the nights when I walked a quarter of Delaware County and West Philadelphia trying to find an abandoned home to sleep in. And even when I found one, I was too frightened to go inside because that’s what sent me to jail in the first place. I finally returned to Upper Darby, to my old home where I had lived with my father 2 ½ years earlier. The house was barricaded up, but, luckily for me, the garage was unlocked. I found a mattress which had been thrown out by the dumpsters and dragged it inside.
It would not be a lie to say that I enjoyed sleeping that night on the old mattress inside my abandoned garage. Other nights I wasn’t so lucky - sleeping outside, exposed to the elements, until I saw police patrolling and was forced to move along. Then I heard about Covenant House Pennsylvania. And that’s when my life changed.
Unlike my own father, Covenant House welcomed me with open arms. When my blood family counted me out and left me behind, Covenant House was there for me, and the staff of Covenant House have become my new family. Being at Covenant House has changed the way I think, and changed the way I act. It has given me the guidance I never found at home and the courage that I didn't know I had.
Ever since I was young, my dream has been to become a chef. With the support and encouragement of the staff at Covenant House, I went out and found a job as a Prep Cook at the Concordville Inn. I love it! I just received a promotion to Grill Cook, and I’m so fortunate to work for a great Executive Chef who has taken me under his wing. I am on a path now where I can keep working hard and I know I will achieve my dreams.
Today I live in Covenant House’s Rights of Passage program, where I have my own apartment and the support of Ms. Natalie and all the amazing staff. I currently work three jobs and volunteer to work at the Covenant House shelter when I have a day off. So I am always busy building my future!
Covenant House transforms lives. And with your support another young person can get another life-changing opportunity as I did.