Tonight, Covenant House Florida is hosting its 2018 Executive Sleep Out, with the goal of having local executives sleep on the street for one night so homeless kids don’t have to in the future. The Sleep Out participants will spend the night, from 7pm to 7am, at the Orlando City Soccer stadium downtown. A candlelight vigil for homeless youth will take place at 6:30pm.
Covenant House locally offers safety, shelter and support to homeless youth. West Orlando News has been preparing a major profile of Covenant House and their efforts, successes and future plans. Shocking statistics show 4.2 million kids in America will face homelessness this year. Nationwide, the Sleep Out program has helped provide 700,000 nights of shelter, 4,000 youth with stable housing and 1,800 youth with employment. That’s a real impact to real lives.
The Sleep Out events are acts of solidarity, “showing homeless youth unconditional love and absolute respect” according to the organization’s own words. Covenant House hosts these events to create advocates for homeless youth and to raise necessary funds for local programs that are helping kids every single day in our community.
Covenant House also planned to have a panel of experts on youth homelessness, and possible street outreach as well as a crash course on youth homelessness as part of the annual event.
Overall, Orlando City Soccer plans to host more than 100 executives for the Sleep Out Executive event. Each “sleeper” will participate in a moving panel discussion with the youth, before heading outside with a cardboard box and sleeping bag in hand to sleep on the pavement for the night. Prior to the event, each participant will raise funds for Covenant House Florida and its programs, which help mitigate the effects of homelessness. Individual web pages are created for each participant to collect online contributions, raising funds by reaching out to family, friends and colleagues to support their effort.
Prior to the Sleep Out, several hundred youth will participate in the Annual Youth Procession and Candlelight Vigil for Homeless Youth. Youth will gather at The Cathedral Church of St. Luke to learn more about the plight of homeless youth. At 6pm the youth will walk in a procession from the Cathedral Church of St. Luke to the Walt Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola Park for a program that includes music, inspiring words from teens and supporters, and a candle lighting ceremony.
“For us, it’s also about helping kids build confidence. Kids have hopes and dreams and need a safe, reliable home to feel comfortable carrying those out. We want kids to grow up with the confidence they need to become successful adults – and having a home is a building step to reach these goals,” said Kay Rawlins, co-founder of Orlando City Soccer Club, and president of Orlando City Foundation.
Covenant House Florida is still accepting donations to support the 2018 Executive Sleep Out. You can also find out more details about the event and the larger movement.
Stay tuned for an exclusive look at Orlando’s Covenant House leadership and the local vision making a major difference in our community.