July 1, 2020
Thank you for all your support these past four months. We are most grateful to you and for you. We pray that you and your loved ones are well. Thanks to your prayers, only three Covenant House youth and one staff person have contracted the virus thus far – and ALL have fully recovered.
It is hard to believe that this pandemic is only four months old. And so we are left to wonder, what will the next four months bring?
Our youth and staff are doing remarkably well. We couldn’t be prouder.
Despite the tremendous health risks for them (and their families), our dedicated team has come to work every day to provide our youth with the unconditional love and professional care they so desperately need – and crave. Sadly, our youth were babies and toddlers for Katrina. Their teenage years were filled with abuse, violence, and trauma. Today, they find themselves homeless in the midst of one of the greatest health crises in our world’s history.
The pandemic is unsettling and frightening for each of us who have a roof over our head, good health care, sound employment, money in the bank, and a loving family. What about for our youth? The vast majority come from poverty and dysfunction. They were doing everything we had asked of them… working hard, saving money, preparing to move into an apartment… and then out of nowhere, the rug got pulled out from under them. They were laid-off, just like so many of our family and friends.
They were knocked down, yet again. It wasn’t their fault. With a job comes self-respect, self-worth, and dignity. Without one comes insecurity, fear, and depression.
As our counselors were helping our young people through the set-back – and were preparing them to re-enter the job market – along came the death of George Floyd and the very understandable public reaction, especially from our African-American community. In recent weeks, our kids have had a growing interest in the marches and demonstrations for racial equity and justice. Seventy-eight percent of our young people (and seventy-two percent of our staff) are African-American.
African-American youth are 83% more likely to experience homelessness.
In late November, we were caring for an average of 162 youth and children – the most in our history. Now seven months later, we are averaging over 220 young people. Based on our post Katrina experience, we anticipate the number of homeless youth in our care to climb to over 250 by the fall.
In the months ahead, due to the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, we expect major increases in aberrant and violent behavior: sexual abuse and assault, domestic and street violence, alcohol and drug abuse, human trafficking, depression and suicide.
Last week, families behind on rent payments started being evicted. Later this month federal unemployment insurance will disappear. We’d have to go back to the 1930s to witness more people unemployed. Our Louisiana economy – long dependent on oil and tourism – will unfortunately recover much more slowly than most states. There will be a lot more people unemployed, for a lot longer. Maybe we should expect to see more than 250 young people at our door… 275 or maybe even 300? How many youth and children will be with us on Christmas Eve?
With the large increase in the number of our kids comes a large increase in our expenses. We need approximately $3,000,000 to ensure that no child in need is ever turned away.
To date, thanks to the generosity of so many of you, we have raised $2,745,000. We are tremendously grateful. We are hoping this month to raise the remaining $255,000.
Would you prayerfully consider making a special COVID-19 gift? Our kids are absolutely worth it. Promise.
Be assured of our continued prayers for you and your family in the months ahead.
Jim Kelly, Executive Director
P.S. We know that God loves our kids infinitely more than we do, and will not abandon them – or us – during this critical time of need.