Residents traded the comforts of home for a cold Hollywood parking lot Nov. 15 to find out what it’s like to be homeless in Los Angeles.
Participating in a “Sleep Out” hosted by Covenant House California (CHC), located at 1325 N. Western Ave., more than 86 volunteers spent the night in the charity’s parking lot to raise awareness and money to provide services for homeless youth.
“It was an amazing experience,” said CHC organizer Mike Stommel. “We raised $333,000 in one night, and 100 percent of the funds go directly to CHC and not to overhead costs usually associated with fundraising events.”
Leading up to the “Sleep Out,” each participant was assigned a fundraising website and was asked to seek sponsorship in the form of donations from family and friends.
One of those volunteers was Hancock Park resident Beth Corets, who raised $9,335, sleeping out with her daughter, Marlborough School student Sydney Gough.
“We raised more money than ever before,” says Corets, who has slept out three times.
An advisory board member of CHC, Corets says the event is a unique opportunity for people to experience what Covenant House does on a daily basis.
“A lot of kids on the streets are runaways or come from foster situations. In many cases they are LGBT and were rejected by their families, or they had difficult home lives and romanticized Hollywood and thought they could make it on their own. Covenant House gives them a safe place to sleep and a good meal,” she explains.
CHC has been providing food, shelter and other services to people 18 to 24 years old since 1988, impacting the lives of more than 160,000 youth in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The organization raises more than 80 percent of its funding from private donations, according to its website.
Corets says she is amazed by the support she received from her neighbors, who have both given money and inquired how they can get involved to help. She tells people not to be afraid of homeless youth, but instead show compassion:
“When you meet these kids, it’s easy to see their potential. They don’t want to be a burden, and they do want to make a difference. They have joy and they are resilient. The goal is to help them bridge homelessness into successful adulthood,” she concludes.
To learn more, visit covenanthousecalifornia.org.