On May 25th, for the second time since I was a homeless child, I will be "sleeping out" to raise money and awareness for Covenant House. Last year in the days leading up to the sleep-out, my fear of the triggers that I knew I would experience was overwhelming … I was terrified that I would end up melting down in front of the 81 amazing women that were going to be sleeping on the streets all around me. As we were getting ready to sleep on the cardboard cushioned pavement surrounded by fences and law enforcement, I experienced a safety and comfort that did not exist for me when I was living on the streets.
From the age of 13 to 14 1/2 I slept on park benches, in apartment complex saunas, and in abandoned buildings (always upright, keeping my back against a wall near a window or other escape route.). Unlike the sleep-out I spent most of the time completely alone, and without even the comfort of cardboard to ease harsh surfaces. When it was cold I only had the clothes on my back; I had no protection from the elements on those park bench nights. I went through many periods where I had no food for 3 and 4 days at a time, and no idea when I would be lucky enough to eat again. I bathed in the sinks of public restrooms with my clothing on. Sometimes, out of desperation, I would wait until the cover of night and walk fully clothed into the ocean to bathe and rinse my clothing. On most days people would pass me by without so much as making eye contact. Days would pass with no human contact or conversation. All of this, and I know that I was one of the lucky ones; I was only raped a few times, my time being trafficked was for labour not sex.
Between 2 and 48 hours on the street a homeless child WILL be approached by a predator/exploiter.
I had the honour of speaking at the first Women Unite Sleep-Out … as I spoke, I was barely able to hold it together … my voice cracked and tears fell as my heart broke for myself … for that little 13 year old girl. I had just finished touring Covenant House and witnessed first-hand all of the incredible things that they provide for homeless children. Healthcare, job training, mentorship, psychological services, education, transitional housing -and most importantly, a sense of family … more than a sense, they are a family. The staff (I prefer to call them parents) grow and heal these kids so that they can go on to have a bright future; seeing all of what Covenant House does for these kids makes me wonder how different my life would have been had I been fortunate enough to be rescued by them. I am often asked why and how am I able to speak out and share my story. It’s selfish in a way, I am doing for homeless children what I wish someone had done for me … somehow that heals me. Please help keep Covenant House to be able to continue to help children who are on the streets, at-risk and/or being trafficked.
EVERY penny counts - My goal this year is 25,000.00 - please donate whatever you can.
91% of every dollar we raise goes directly to her to helping homeless kids. Covenant House is Canada’s largest agency serving at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth.
Covenant House Toronto supports as many as 250 children every day. For 35 years, Covenant House Toronto has helped ~95,000 homeless children have the opportunity and hope to move from a life on the street to a life with a future.