Covenant House CEO and Tina Kelley, Authors of ‘Almost Home,’ to Speak at GCU
November 18/Update: The 6:30 pm event has been canceled. Please call 732-987-2263 for more information.
Homelessness isn’t just an adult problem—it also weighs on upward of 2 million American children and teenagers who grapple with poverty, abuse, street violence, human trafficking and other social ills. Some of their stories—and the journey to reclaim their lives—are told in Almost Home: From Homelessness to Hope, written by Kevin Ryan, CEO and president of Covenant House International, and Pulitzer Prize winner Tina Kelley. The authors will speak at Georgian Court University in Lakewood Tuesday, Nov. 19. Copies of the book will be available for sale and for signing.
Covenant House helps homeless and trafficked youth throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Several of them are profiled in Mr. Ryan and Ms. Kelley’s 2012 book, which chronicles the lives of young people like Paulie, an Alaska native whose family life was turned upside down by domestic violence, prescription drug abuse and other problems, and Creionna, a teen mother from New Orleans who was displaced after Hurricane Katrina.
“When a place to belong is possible—a place where one is safe and cherished and cared for—life is filled with promise. Home is where we begin, where we land, and where we end—it’s the airstrip for the soaring adventure we call life. That is Covenant House, exactly.”
Kevin Ryan, CEO of Covenant House
Almost Home gives context to some of the alarming statistics about the 1.6 million young people in the U.S. and Canada who run away or are kicked out of their homes. A recent Covenant House Institute report found that among the young people they serve:
41 percent witnessed acts of violence in their homes.
36 percent indicated that someone in their family used drugs regularly.
19 percent reported being beaten with an object.
19 percent said they endured sexual abuse.
15 percent knew someone close to them who was murdered.
In 2012 Covenant House served more than 50,000 kids. The organization’s residential and community service programs assisted 24,972 homeless young people, and Covenant House Street Outreach teams helped an additional 31,050 homeless and at-risk youth in 21 cities.
Everyone deserves a place to call ‘home’
Mr. Ryan, who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service from GCU in 2010, speaks passionately about Covenant House and its work to meet the need of homeless youth.
“Life teaches us we can undertake any voyage—no matter the hassle or peril—if the destination is home,” Mr. Ryan said during his last visit to GCU. “I think about friends who have rushed to the airport to catch the last flight out—simply because they want to get home. I think of all the kids who return from college to my hometown in October to celebrate Homecoming—and each other.
“I think about a beloved friend who asked to be discharged from the hospital, even though it meant her fragile medical condition would deteriorate more quickly, so she could die at home,” he said. “When a place to belong is possible—a place where one is safe and cherished and cared for—life is filled with promise. Home is where we begin, where we land, and where we end—it’s the airstrip for the soaring adventure we call life. That is Covenant House, exactly.”
More about Almost Home and the work of Covenant House can be found at www.almosthomethebook.com. The book, which was three years in the making, is now in its fourth international printing, and readers are introduced to it in a memorable forward written by former Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Beyond illustrating the problems of homelessness, Mr. Ryan and Ms. Kelley offer solutions and action steps for those willing join in the fight to save young people from the streets.
The book talk with the authors of Almost Home is open to the public, but reservations are required. The cost is $5 per person in advance, or $15 per person at the door. Admission is free to members of the GCU community with ID.
To reserve seating, email the GCU Office of Conferences and Special Events or call 732.987.2263. Information about GCU’s events that are open to the public are published twice a year in MOSAIC, which is available online.
ABOUT GEORGIAN COURT UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and an historic, special concern for women. A forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, Georgian Court serves nearly 2,500 students of all faiths and backgrounds in both undergraduate and graduate programs. The main campus is located at 900 Lakewood Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court also serves students at New Jersey Coastal Communiversity in Wall and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.
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