Senator Vin Gopal joined the Covenant House Friday, May 11 for the organization’s Sleep Out: Asbury Park Edition to raise awareness for youth homelessness.
“Monmouth County is considered a wealthy area and, often, people forget that our residents also face hardships. Youth homelessness affects our citizens, our neighbors, right here in District 11. As your legislator, I consider it my obligation to do what I can to address this issue and work with organizations like the Covenant House to ensure our homeless youth are taken care of,” Senator Gopal said.
Sen. Gopal was among dozens of supporters to abandon the comforts of home and sleep in the parking lot of Trinity Church in Asbury Park Friday, with little more than a piece of cardboard and a sleeping bag as shelter for the night.
“Obviously, sleeping out in a sleeping bag for one night doesn’t even come close to the experience homeless teens face on a daily basis. However, an experience like this really opens your eyes to the reality of homelessness here in Asbury Park and Monmouth County,” Sen. Gopal said.
“Despite the rain we encountered late Friday night, this was an incredibly rewarding and illuminating experience. I am so thankful to have had the chance to team up with the Covenant House, as well as the inspiring community members who participated in this event, to raise awareness for this very important issue.”
In addition to raising awareness for the Covenant House, Sen. Gopal also set a fundraising goal of $1,000 for the organization. With the help of the community, Sen. Gopal tripled his fundraising goal, raising $3,165 for the Covenant House.
“I am so moved by the community’s outpouring of support for this vital organization, which works to support homeless youth throughout the state. Your generous donations have pushed us well beyond our fundraising goal,” Senator Gopal said.
“Every dollar raised will go towards ensuring a young person facing homelessness has a safe place to sleep and the services they need to not only survive, but to thrive. I am so proud to have the opportunity to raise money for the Covenant House and thank everyone who has donated thus far for your support.”
4.2 million children in America will face homelessness this year.
Covenant House provides homeless young people with safe shelter and wrap-around services, including education and job training, so they can move forward to an adulthood free of poverty and the threat of homelessness. The organization operates in 31 cities across six countries.
Covenant House Asbury Park was first opened in 2012 in response to a growing need of support and resources for homeless teens across the state of New Jersey. Over the past few years, Covenant House operations in Asbury Park have expanded to meet the needs of the teens volunteers can reach. The Asbury Park homeless shelter is staffed around the clock with volunteers and professionals.
At the Asbury Park homeless shelter, volunteers open doors of opportunity for homeless youth through three core programs: Street Outreach, Supportive Housing, and Crisis Care. The Outreach team is staffed with experts in finding areas populated by homeless youth, and connecting with those who can help us reach them. The Supportive Housing programs at Covenant House Asbury Park aim to set teens up for independent success. All Crisis Care centers are stocked with medical supplies to address the immediate needs of a homeless teen that may be coming from the streets to one of the available beds. Together, these three programs formulate the Continuum of Care. The comprehensive Covenant House approach to support for homeless teens aims to minimize recidivism in youth homelessness by setting up teens for success beyond the Asbury Park homeless shelter.