An Inspiring Alumni Gives Back
Meeting Chris in person, one would never believe the struggles he has overcome in life.
But it has been a difficult road.
“I know this is hard to believe,” says Chris, “but I just turned 31, and this was the first birthday … the first one … that I felt like I could celebrate without feeling surprised I survived this long…
“When I was 18 I was on the streets and I didn’t see any way out,” he shares. “I tried to stay with my family but it just didn’t work out. Neither did foster care.
“I was sleeping outside every night, on park benches, or just walking around,” he said. “You have to watch your back on the streets, so you really don’t get any sleep. And you are always hungry…
“I finally walked into Covenant House. I was scared, and really not expecting much. But everyone was so nice and supportive, I could tell right away this place was different. I walked in and that is when things slowly started to change.”
As Chris starts to talk about his early days at Covenant House, in walks Dave, one of his first counselors. They hug and Chris reveals that Dave is one of the main reasons he has survived and thrived.
“I was not an easy case,” Chris says. “I came to Covenant House an angry kid. Dave would work on a plan for me and I would try to sabotage the plan. I remember my first job interview, Dave worked so hard to land it for me. Then I got on the bus and got so scared I turned right back around to Covenant House!
“But Dave and everyone at Covenant House would not let me fail,” says Chris. “They had patience. They let me fall. They let me try again. I started to think of Covenant House as less of a homeless shelter and more of a home. And I started to think of Dave and the other people here as my family.”
“With Chris, and with so many of our young people who come to us after years of abuse or neglect, we focus every day on the little steps,” says Dave. “We look for that first smile, the first thank you. It can take days, months, and sometimes longer, but it’s a privilege to be on the journey with these young people and watch them survive and prosper and grow in ways they never thought possible.
Today, Chris works at a shipping company. He commutes over two hours each way, and regularly puts in 18 hour days. Since December he has already been promoted twice because of his dedication and work ethic. “I learned that at Covenant House,” Chris shares. “I learned to be responsible, to care about my work, to care about other people, to make a difference.
“I think about what Covenant House has meant in my life, and I can honestly say I think I would have been dead without this place and the staff. And I think the same is true for about half the kids that are here today."
Chris comes back to Covenant House often to inspire our current residents with his story. He is a leader in the Covenant House family, and in the community. And he is a living example to every person he meets to live each day to the fullest. And to never, ever give up.