One in 10 young adults ages 18 to 25 will experience homelessness in the U.S. this year.
You may not know Janice personally, but chances are, you know someone like her. Like so many youth who come to Covenant House, she is a bright, bubbly, and ambitious young woman with plans for her future. She wants to give back to her community, get her college degree, and live a stable, fulfilled life. She is your sister, your daughter, your niece, and your neighbor. One in 10 young adults — the number who face homelessness in the U.S. — is Janice.
Today she is at the start of the life of stability and independence she has worked so hard for since arriving at Covenant House a year ago. In this short time, Janice, 21, has moved from homelessness to hope, taking full advantage of Covenant House’s workforce development opportunities and successfully completing an EMT training program.
She also is a Covenant House youth ambassador, representing the faces and voices of the youth we serve.
For Janice, all these successes represent a turning point in her life.
“Coming here made me more prepared for my own life, to live independently,” she said. “My life has changed a lot with me getting into school and working and even looking for stable housing. I already had my high school diploma, so I was able to get into training classes to further my education.”
Janice recalled how the staff welcomed her when she arrived at Covenant House. “The first thing they said when I first came in was ‘are you hungry?’ ‘Do you need clothes?’ ‘Do you need to wash your clothes?’ They didn't ask ‘why are you here?’ or ‘what happened?’
“Stereotypically, when you think about shelters, you think about these bad places,” she went on. “You don't really get help. You're around a bunch of adults, and you don't really get support. But walking into Covenant House, even with not having a clue about what's going to happen, you don't feel as stressed. You feel more comfortable about what your situation is and how they can help you get out of it.”
Like so many young people beginning their journey to independence and wanting to chart their own path, Janice faced unexpected obstacles. Her need to move into a shelter was sudden. But our intake staff relieved some of Janice’s stress about her situation. And as she settled into the shelter, she discovered a realm of possibilities that exceeded her expectations.
“You think you'll only get a bed and some food, but instead I got a bunch of opportunities.”
And becoming an EMT is “just the first step,” she shared excitedly.
Last spring, Janice completed EMT training and began studying for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians licensing exam. “It's something I always wanted — a career where I could help. That's what I wanted to do. Being an EMT is something I can really see myself in 10 or 30 years still doing,” she said.
Her ultimate goal, though, is to enroll in college to become a paramedic, and, of course, like many 21-year-olds, to move into her own housing.
Janice said access to mental health care, a relentless support system, and the youth ambassador program are just a few other things she appreciates about Covenant House.
“I'm not someone who likes to talk a lot, so [the youth ambassador program] is an opportunity to enhance my social skills and to talk to people,” she said. “Also, we're the voice of the youth, and I feel like who's better to voice our experiences than we are? That's why I really wanted to join.”
Without Covenant House and its supporters, Janice said she’d be lost, and that while she naturally has the drive to be successful, it “would have taken longer and been more difficult.”
Youth Homelessness Awareness Month runs through November. Join us to make a difference in the lives of young people facing homelessness. Your support fuels our workforce development programs and all our programs, so that young people, like Janice, can reach their goal to live independently and pursue their dreams.
“Your donation could change a lot of lives,” Janice said.
Shelter Is Only the Beginning
From crisis to care: Find out what it's like when a young person enters our doors.