By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Covenant House, a shelter for homeless youth, is holding a “Sleep Out” this week where top corporate executives sleep outside to raise money to help bring homeless teens inside.
Cordella Hill is the Executive Director of Covenant House of Pennsylvania. She says her organization is hosting “Sleep Out: Executive Edition” fundraisers at 12 locations in the US and in Canada. One of those locations is in North Philadelphia where 19 executives will sleep in the cold, with nothing but a cardboard box and a sleeping bag.
“We’re all hoping that it doesn’t rain, we’re all hoping that there’s no snow coming this way,” says Hill. “If you’re homeless and on the street you don’t have those options. If you’re out there, you have to deal with whatever those options are, whatever the situation is.”
Over the past year, Covenant House has helped more than 500 youth get off the streets and into a better life. Hill says the shelter focuses on young people age 18 to 21 an age she says is extremely vulnerable on the streets.
“Among the population that comes through the door, there’s abuse where it’s physical or emotional or sexual,” she says. “Most people think of human trafficking as an international issue, unfortunately, we’ve had people come through our doors that have been victims. And it’s not just 18 and 19 year olds. It can begin much, much younger and always starts with a trust relationship.”
Hill says part of what Covenant House does is help young people learn how to survive.
“We try here- with all of our young ladies that come through- we try to tell them what their rights are, tell them what to look for and how to protect themselves,” says Hill. “Human trafficking is real.”
Hill says the goal of the Sleep Out is to both raise awareness about the problem of teen homelessness and to raise $50,000.
“It is definitely an experience that most corporate executives would never have had to go through,” says Hill.
The Sleep Out kicks off on Thursday night. For more information or to donate to the cause, go to covhou.convio.net.