Covenant House FINAL

Health & Hope is a newsletter designed to educate and inspire Western Montanans on life-saving procedures, community events and services to keep you and your family healthy.

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Providing a longer runway It is 9 a.m., and in the entryway of Covenant House Alaska in Anchorage, some of the youths there are just beginning to stir. One young woman, her hair wild, wearing fleece pajama bottoms and wrapped in a blanket, makes her way into the café, where the scent of fresh coffee emanates from the doors. Inside the café, another resident is learning how to make that coffee under the guidance of café manager Megan Davey. A third sits alone at a table, class books and notes spread before him. This is the everyday scene at Covenant House Alaska (CHA), which for 34 years has been creatively meeting the needs of at-risk youth ages 13 to 25 to help them find a brighter future. Since 1988, CHA has helped more than 30,000 youth experiencing homelessness or victims of human trafficking find a way forward. It is guided by the CHA vision: "To make the experience of youth homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring." With the help of longtime, cornerstone investors like Providence Alaska, it is working. "We appreciate that Providence recognizes youth homelessness as a health care crisis," said Joe Hemphill, CHA's chief development and external affairs officer. "It is a service to the community that we provide by developing healthy, high-functioning adults. These young people are certainly falling into cracks, especially if they reach the place where they are adult age and chronically homeless. We are interrupting that path." During the past year, Providence's support has helped CHA with one of its most ambitious initiatives yet: Bridge to Success. Bridge to Success has two components – 22 on-site micro- apartments called Covey Lofts, and Covey Academy, a training center offering education or workforce development to help young people take the next step toward independence. In CHA terminology, the effort gives youth a "longer runway," or more time to figure out adult living before taking off on their own. "We know and understand that our youth have experienced trauma," said Sean Gaither, director of housing, which includes Covey Lofts. Gaither works with youth to show them exactly what it's like to be a tenant in an apartment – paying rent on time, keeping their space clean, interacting with other adults. It may seem straightforward, and for children who grew up with a strong support network, it likely is. Most of CHA's youth, however, don't have that. Besides homelessness, many of these young people have experienced domestic violence, human trafficking, teen pregnancy, disabling conditions and more.

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