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Night of Covenant House Stars Celebrates a Sense of Belonging

Night of Covenant House Stars! 2023 in New York

On Monday, May 22, over 500 Covenant House supporters gathered to celebrate the lives of the young people at Covenant House at our annual Night of Covenant House Stars Gala at the Javits North: Rooftop Pavilion and Terrace in New York City, presented by Delta.

The evening kicked off with a welcome from Academy Award winner and Covenant House International board member, Ariana DeBose.

“Tonight, we’re all drawn together by a single deep connection to Covenant House, and by the love and respect that hold our community together,” said Ariana. “We are here because we know that together, we can end the experience of homelessness in young people’s lives and break the cycle that repeats it in adulthood or future generations.”

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle spoke with president and CEO of Covenant House International, Bill Bedrossian, about his vision for the future of Covenant House.

“We’re at an incredible moment in our history, serving more young people than ever,” said Bill. “Over twenty-one hundred youth sleep in a Covenant House bed each night. We’re a recognized leader in serving young people with high-quality programs and services. And now I think we’re poised to go deeper, to find solutions to the youth homelessness crisis.

“We need to use our influence to advocate to end the root causes of homelessness,” said Bill. “Federal and state minimum wages still fall far short of soaring rental costs. We need to advocate in the development of affordable housing, as well as prepare youth for jobs that pay them a fair and competitive wage.”

New York Knick star Jalen Brunson received the prestigious Beacon of Hope Award in recognition of his support for the young people at Covenant House in Pennsylvania and New York City where he’s been involved for four years. His award was presented by Joel “The Kid Mero” Martinez who has been featured in Night of Covenant House Stars for the last three years, and also happens to be a devoted Knicks fan.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Jalen. “Truth is, though, the hope that Covenant House youth come to feel draws from this whole community, and I’m proud to accept this honor on your behalf. And I want to make a promise to the youth who make their way to Covenant House that I’ll stay in this fight as long as I can. No young person should have to experience homelessness.”

In one of many touching moments throughout the evening, Jalen then asked his mother, Sandra, to join him on stage. “My mom introduced me to Covenant House and has always modeled unconditional love and absolute respect. So, thank you mom, and thank you everyone, for allowing me to receive this honor on behalf of such a caring, committed community.” Sandra Brunson invited up our youth performers, AB and Amari, who wrote and performed their own rap exclusively for Night of Covenant House Stars about their own sense of belonging while living at Covenant House.

Executive Vice President and Chief People and Inclusion Officer of Universal Music Group, Eric Hutcherson, was honored with the Covenant House Board Service Award for his efforts and passion in finding opportunities for young people, especially young people of color, and for his work with Covenant House for nearly a decade as a volunteer and a leader.

“When young people walk through the doors of Covenant House, they feel like they’re finally safe, they feel like they can finally be themselves, without any question, without having to prove anything,” said Eric. “They finally have a place where they can just exhale and be themselves just for one minute. And then to give them that catapult they need to go back out into the world stronger, to go back out into the world with confidence. To know that they can be successful regardless of what challenges are put in front of them so that they know they have their Covenant House family behind them.”

Kevin Ryan, president emeritus of Covenant House International, was also honored, as Bill Bedrossian announced that a fund in Kevin’s honor supporting open intake at Covenant House has raised over $2.2 million.

“I am enormously grateful, and really touched by this outpouring of love for our young people,” said Kevin. “This means that so many more children and youth will cross that bridge to hope. I am grateful, Bill, for your leadership of Covenant House. You’re a committed advocate, and you have the vision to inspire this movement to end youth homelessness in our lifetimes.

“And friends,” Kevin continued, “your generosity tonight will make hope possible for thousands of children and youth. Open intake is, in a word, welcome, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In the dark of night, welcome. In the blizzard, welcome. In grief and poverty and chaos, welcome. Thank you so much for giving the gift of welcome to our young people.”

Delta Air Lines and its employees were honored for their ten-plus years of partnership with Covenant House, raising millions of dollars, supporting the reconstruction of several of our facilities, and opening exciting career paths for our youth through the Delta Career Readiness Program. Covenant House alum Octavia Liburd shared how the Delta partnership has made a difference in her life.

“While I was at Covenant House, despite my circumstances, I really believed in what I could become, and I knew my journey through Covenant House was just that – a journey to go through, not stay in,” said Octavia. “With the support of Covenant House, I graduated high school, and moved into my first apartment. Then I got into the Delta Career Readiness Program. Once I graduated, I interviewed with Delta and was hired full-time. Now I travel the world!

“Delta invested in me, and their support for Covenant House is an investment in the young people at Covenant House today, who are learning like I did that they are meant for greater things,” said Octavia.

Tony Award winner Adrienne Warren spoke about Covenant House efforts to fight human trafficking, and shared some inspiring words from a trafficking survivor.

“Young people facing homelessness are a huge target for human trafficking, a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry,” said Adrienne. “Their vulnerability makes them relatively easy to lure with promises of love, protection, food, and financial security — no chains required. In Latin America, Covenant House staffs three safe houses for our young residents. Just twelve to eighteen years old, they already have been trafficked, abused, and exploited. In the U.S. and Canada, nearly one in five Covenant House residents are survivors of trafficking.

“Mia Connor is a trafficking survivor,” said Adrienne. “She could not be with us tonight, but she wrote a note that I want to share with you:

“Hi, she says, I’m Mia, and I am the change I want to see in the world. I’m a lab assistant, working to become a clinical laboratory scientist so I can better help patients. I work at a city hospital, often with immigrants from around the world and low-income patients. My experiences have shaped my purpose — to help. I’m a trafficking survivor, and now I’m in a position to advocate for others.”

Actor Javier Muñoz spoke to the audience about how Covenant House supports the LGBTQ+ community.

“By being here tonight, you are helping Covenant House create safe, warm, and welcoming spaces for all of our youth, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. LGBTQ+ youth are way overrepresented among young people facing homelessness. Covenant House initiatives specifically for our LGBTQ+ young people build community and confidence, while our trauma-informed services support our youth as they heal, and address their needs and experiences. Thank you for doing your part so we can open our doors to LGBTQ+ youth. In a world where they are often told they don’t belong, we can tell them they do.”

The evening then concluded with a joyous performance from the Grammy-nominated music group, Tank and the Bangas.

Other attendees in this special evening included Covenant House champions John Dickerson, Audra McDonald, Raúl Castillo, Jo Ellen Pellman, Rachel Sussman, KEM, Jason Ralph, and Matilda Szydagis among others.

Funds raised from Night of Covenant House Stars go directly to food, clothing, healthcare, education, job training, and short and long-term housing for youth overcoming homelessness at Covenant House across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Delta Air Lines, Tito’s, and Universal Music Group served as corporate partners for this year’s event. All of our partners sign on for more than just one event – they join Covenant House throughout the year to help young people thrive in a safe and loving environment, and help to make sure our young people know they belong.

Here are some highlights of media coverage:

National Broadcast:  
Covenant House 
The View 
May 22, 2023 
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Event Coverage:

Knicks star Jalen Brunson received 2023 Beacon of Hope Award at Covenant House   
AMNY  
Eric Samulski 
May 23, 2023 
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Photos: Ariana DeBose, Audra McDonald, and More Attend NIGHT OF COVENANT HOUSE STARS GALA

Broadway World 
Blair Ingenthron 
May 23, 2023 
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Red Carpet Coverage:

Ariana DeBose is elegantly chic in a shimmering gray blazer as she leads celebrities at the 2023 Night of Covenant House Stars Gala in NYC

DailyMail 
Jacqueline Lindenberg 
May 22, 2023 
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Covenant House's A Night of Covenant House Stars Annual Gala - Red Carpet

Getty Images 
May 22, 2023 
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A Night of Covenant House Stars Gala, New York

Shutterstock 
May 22, 2023 
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2023 Night of Covenant House Stars Gala

Alamy  
May 22, 2023  
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Night of Covenant House Stars 2023 Photos

Imago.  
May 22, 2023  
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2023 Night Of Covenant House Stars Gala

WireImage   
May 22, 2023   
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Hottest Celebrity Pics This Week Of May 22 – 28: Tom Brady & More

Hollywood Life  
Paige Kindlick  
May 23, 2023  
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