Jamal knew exactly what he wanted when he came to the Cov. “I wanted to live on my own, be independent, pursue my dreams, become a man,” he shared. Working diligently with his case manager, he set goals that would lead to him achieving his dream of independence. After several weeks in the site’s Emergency Shelter, he transitioned to “Rights of Passage,” the Cov’s Transitional Housing program. While at the Cov, Jamal was working at Oracle Arena, the home of the Golden State Warriors, as a parking attendant. Though that was not the position that he ultimately wanted, he worked hard, and was awarded with a position in the arena’s customer service department. “I love the customer interaction,” Jamal told us, “I work the same spot every game, and we have regular customers who know my name and treat me like family. They tell me it is nice to see me and I feel like I make their experience better. That is my favorite part!” At the Cov, we know the value of unconditional love and absolute respect, and are thrilled that he feels that not only at home with us, but also in his workplace. We can see the difference it is making in his life. Recently, he has been promoted as supervisor of guest services! Jamal is using the Cov’s resident savings program, to make his goal of moving into his own place a reality. He is also attending college (just one class away from earning his AA degree) and pursuing his dream of being a professional baseball player. But, if that doesn’t work out, he has his sights set on a career as a sports broadcaster.
Jennifer entered the foster care system at age 3. She was placed in her first group home at age 15. When she was 18 years old she exited the foster care system and became homeless. Jennifer had no place to go. She was lost, unsure of her future and hurting deeply.
Then, Jennifer found Covenant House.
Through the safety and support provided at Covenant House, Jennifer was able to make a workable plan. She went to Cosmetology school of course! She began making some money, she continued learning valuable life sills, and she eventually got out on her own, all this while building community and creating her chosen family.
Jennifer has remained connected with Covenant House over the years through volunteering, visiting staff and connecting with other Covenant House alum. Jennifer was recognized by system workers as a young leader and she was asked to become a peer advocate for youth in the foster care system. She very quickly started to specialize in working with trafficked youth. It was not long after this that she was recruited to work at a youth drop-in center to provide life skills training and group programming for girls.
She eventually became a case manager and now, just a few years later, she is working as part of the 24 hour response team supporting victims of trafficking. Jennifer’s work has opened doors for hundreds of young people, just as Covenant House and our staff opened doors for her. She is dedicated, determined and provides unwavering support and advocacy for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth. She continues to transform herself and creates space and opportunity for so many others to do the same.
Sister Margaret Farrell, Staff
For over 15 years, Sister Margaret Farrell has inspired, encouraged, and unconditionally loved thousands of homeless youth in Hollywood, at Covenant House California. We were thrilled to celebrate with Sister Margaret this year when she was selected by the California Community Foundation as one of Los Angeles’ Unsung Heroes.
Sister Margaret is not your stereotypical nun! You’ll never see her wearing a habit, she’s far from prim and proper, and there is not a judgmental bone in her body. You will see her bouncing through the halls at Covenant House in jeans and sneakers, usually laughing loudly while telling stories, and bringing joy and love to all who come in contact with her.
Sister Margaret demonstrates generosity and inspires others every day. She’s dedicated her life to serving the poor and society’s outcasts. Whether it’s visiting prisons, driving youth around town to track down documents, listening to heartbreaking stories, or creating opportunities for our youth to give back, Sister Margaret approaches every interaction with kindness and generosity.
She’s created the Matthew 25 project where she organizes our youth on Saturdays to make food for the homeless on Skid Row. She then drives the youth Downtown, and helps them feed the homeless. It’s a beautiful lesson she’s teaching them about their value, their gifts and their worth.
The youth love participating! It inspires and encourages them to continue working hard to change their lives, and that no matter their current situation, there is always someone else in need of support, kindness and love.
An alumni of Covenant House’s program shared, “Without Sister Margaret I wouldn’t be alive today. She is my mother, my godmother, my angel!” Many of the youth that come through our doors are initially intimidated by the fact that she is a nun. “But Sister Margaret is different, because she is always there for you. Always.”
Stephen Curry, Donor
The Golden State Warriors’ spirit of giving was again in evidence when Warriors’ Point Guard, Steph Curry, donated to Covenant House California his 2016 MVP prize: 2017 Kia Sorento! The Kia Sorento will be put to good use at Covenant House, transporting youth to medical appointments, housing leads, and job interviews. Curry, who is known for his generosity and support of the Oakland community, gave the prize in recognition of all the work Covenant House does on behalf of homeless youth.
After the player’s MVP ceremony, Curry met with a few of the young people from Covenant House, giving them words of encouragement and advice. Covenant House California is incredibly grateful for the support of the Golden State Warriors and Warriors’ MVP, Steph Curry. Strength in Numbers = Success for Covenant House Youth!