People brave the elements for Sleep Out, raise awareness of youth homelessness

YORK, Pa. (WHTM) – More than a dozen people braved the elements Saturday morning and slept on the streets for the Covenant House Sleep Out to Help Homeless Youth in York.

Young people and business leaders slept outside in cardboard boxes with only a sleeping bag to raise awareness for homeless youth.

“Cold, hard, rough,” is how Henry Grant described his experience living as a homeless person.

The 26-year-old gained a new outlook on those who have to spend every night on the pavement.

“It really puts my whole life and everything I take for granted into perspective,” Grant said. “When I leave here, I’m going to go home, and I’m going to go to sleep in my warm bed. I’m going to go home and have a meal. I’m going to go buy some food. Homeless people don’t have that option.”

John Ducoff, the executive director of the Covenant House in York, organized the Sleep Out.

The organization assists homeless young people 21 and younger as a drop-in safe center during the day. The people the Covenant House helps includes young women with babies, victims of abuse or neglect, those who have been in foster care, and people thrown out of their homes because they identify as LGBTQ.

“The most significant misconception, and probably the reason why we’re out here tonight to raise awareness, is there aren’t homeless youth,” Ducoff said. “Homeless youth are teenagers who care deeply about how they’re perceived, so they don’t want to be known to be homeless.”

“They’re kids who are dealt a bad card in life,” Grant said. “They didn’t have the same circumstances that I had growing up in life, and the easiest way to help kids is to give them an environment which they can flourish and watch them do so. If I can help kids by sleeping outside for one night, then I would absolutely do that.

This was Ducoff’s second night in a row sleeping on the streets. He took part in the Sleep Out in Philadelphia Thursday night.

“Each one has tremendous potential, and with a little bit of help and a little bit of support, we can change their path. They can become the next generation of York’s leaders,” Ducoff said.

For more information on how you can get involved with the Covenant House, click here.


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