ovenant C Connection
A newsletter for friends of Covenant House Missouri.....opening doors for homeless youth.
Congratulations Graduates! The month of May is filled with excitement for high school seniors who have finally reached their goal- graduation. Graduation takes on a new meaning at Covenant House Missouri where they have helped more than 60 homeless teens obtain their high school diploma or G.E.D. since 2008. Covenant House Missouri’s mission is to help homeless teens get off the streets and give them the skills they will need to guide them on their way to a successful life -- a life that even some of the teens themselves didn’t believe was possible. Covenant House Missouri has helped troubled youth beat the odds and become successful. Many of the teens have faced homelessness, abuse, depression and other various factors that could have been detrimental to their success. Each teen’s story is different but by successfully completing the programs that CHMO has to offer, they are learning the inner strength they possess to have come this far and succeed. In May, Covenant House held a graduation ceremony for CHMO youth. In all, there were 19 GED graduates and 4 high school grads. Former CHMO GED graduate Angela Rusan was the guest speaker at the ceremony, held
at Covenant House. Angela is a recent graduate of SIUE who will begin her Master’s program in the fall. She had a very touching message for the graduates. “Never give up, believe in yourself, and know that the obstacles in life can be overcome,” said Angela. The graduating class is proving Angel’s message to be true. Two of the grads are headed off to the Navy, while several others will be applying to colleges such as Lindenwood, SIUE, SEMO and local community colleges. Following the ceremony there was a party outside on the parking lot of Covenant House where the teens could relax and enjoy their successes. A giant inflatable slide was a hit among the youth and the staff! Volunteer Director Kathleen Davis said, “GEDs and diplomas open many doors for our youth – most jobs require them, our youth can now go on to trade schools, community colleges, universities, and military careers.” The next group to graduate will do so in November, so as one class says farewell, another is preparing to do the same. -By Emily Hafner, Contributing Writer
2727 North Kingshighway Boulevard Saint Louis, Missouri 63113 (314) 533-2241 www.covenanthousemo.org
Mission Statement We who recognize God’s providence and fidelity to his people are dedicated to living out his covenant among ourselves and those children we serve, with absolute respect and unconditional love. That commitment calls us to serve suffering children of the street, and to protect and safeguard all children. Just as Christ in his humanity is the visible sign of God’s presence among his people, so our efforts together in the covenant community are a visible sign that reflects the presence of God, working through the Holy Spirit among ourselves and our kids.
Dear Friends of Covenant House Missouri: Summertime means BBQs and graduation celebrations. Any graduate can be proud of his accomplishments, but here at Covenant House Missouri, our graduates have overcome many more obstacles than the average student. These youth have come from broken homes, poverty and homelessness. Yet, they have persevered through hardships to find a better way for themselves. I am so proud of our graduates and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for these amazing young people. This newsletter also features an inspirational story from Ebony, a CHMO youth. You will also hear from Donna Kindl, a volunteer who was moved to tell her own story. This summer, as you navigate the hectic schedule of BBQs, pool parties and vacation travel, I invite you to join the Covenant House Missouri mission by making a donation that will help a future youth get off the streets and into a better life. And, when you have a chance, if you haven’t already seen it, be sure to check out our brand new website at www.covenanthousemo.org. With Blessings,
Sue Wagener Executive Director Editorial Staff
Board of Directors
Suzanne Wagener Executive Director email@example.com
Paul Kindl Chairman
Mike Chaffin Diane Compardo George Putney Carletha Rogers Jane Schmidt Annie Seal Mike Doyle Kevin Gold Katie Thiemann Jim Klimt
The Covenant Connection is produced Vice-Chair three times each year by Covenant House Missouri. If you would like to suggest a Dan Woods feature or send a submission, please contact Treasurer Suzanne Wagener at swagener@covenanthousemo. org.
Marty Hereford Secretary
Board Emeritus Stan Musial
Now, through the Cornerstone society, you can leave a lasting legacy for the youth of Covenant House Missouri. The gift you leave will bring hope to homeless youth. It will help the youth of Covenant House Missouri to accomplish their dreams and become an inspiration for the future. The Cornerstone is a special group of donors who have remembered Covenant House Missouri in their estate plans. Possible gifts include: gifts of stock, charitable bequests, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and other options. You can consult your tax advisor for the right option for your individual situation. The founding member of the Covenant House Missouri Cornerstone is Dan Woods, a Board Member and friend of CHMO. Woods says he was inspired to remember CHMO in his will because he feels it is important to leave a legacy for future generations. “These teens will be able to accomplish amazing things because of the help they receive from Covenant House,” says Woods. “I feel good knowing that my gift will enable a homeless kid to get off the streets and back into school, or get the counseling they need in order to change their lives.” Another member of Cornerstone, former CHMO Board Chair Erik Solverud, says, “It gives me a positive feeling to know
Young Professionals Group Raises Money for Haiti Relief Efforts
The six members of the Covenant House Missouri Young Professionals group made helping Haiti their mission this winter in the wake of destruction brought on by a devastating earthquake. “We felt that Haiti was really in trouble, and since Covenant House Missouri had helped us get back on our feet, we were compelled to spread the help that Covenant House had given us,” explained Maurice Raspberry, current CHMO resident who leads the Young Professionals group. The members each donated money, totaling more than $150, and also purchased bottled water to send to the relief camps. Covenant House is proud of the positive work being done by the Young Professionals!
that because of my gift a youth will have access to shelter, counseling and other services he needs. I can’t think of a better way to let my gift live on in the future.” Members of the Cornerstone society are sent periodic updates about the youth of Covenant House and the good work being done in our community. In addition, members are recognized annually in various Covenant House Missouri publications, unless they choose to remain anonymous. “Remembering Covenant House in my estate planning was also a way for me to let others know how important the organization is to me. Hopefully my gift will also inspire others to get involved in the cause of helping homeless youth,” says Woods. “The Cornerstone Society gives me the ability to plan now so that I know my favorite charity will benefit later. I’m proud to be part of the Cornerstone Society and I hope that by joining I can inspire others to remember Covenant House Missouri in their estate planning as well,” says Solverud. For more information contact Sue Wagener at 314-4507661 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHMO Youth Featured in In case you missed it, be sure to visit USAToday.com to read an article featuring CHMO youth who are participating in a door to door sign up program to enroll children in Medicaid and CHIP insurance. You can view the article by typing this link into your browser: http://www.usatoday. com/news/nation/2010-06-15-kidshealth_N.htm
Ebony’s Story Since coming to Covenant House, 19-year-old Ebony’s life changed in ways she never could have imagined. “If you want to get somewhere in life, you just have to go for it. I took a chance. I just put God on my side,” said Ebony. With an attitude like this, it is hard to believe that just four months ago, Ebony was homeless and without hope. Prior to being homeless, Ebony lived in New Orleans, Louisiana with her mother, who was in an abusive relationship. Ebony knew she needed to get away, but she didn’t know where to turn. She saved as much money as she could to buy a ticket on the bus out of town. When she arrived in St. Louis, she met and befriended a Samaritan who allowed Ebony to stay in her home for a night. The next day, Ebony met another woman, told the woman about her situation, and the woman called the police. “They took me to this shelter, but it just didn’t look right. I was really glad when I didn’t have to stay there,” she said. Fortunately, the police were able to get in touch with the staff at Covenant House Missouri, and Ebony entered their emergency crisis program. Ebony’s biggest surprise when she arrived at Covenant House was how nice the living space was. She says, “It was not what I thought a shelter would be.” Eventually, Ebony made the next step into the Transitional Living program. Ebony has accomplished more than she could have dreamed. “I’ve been working hard on my GED. I just have one more test to see if I get it, but I’ve taken the practice test,” she said. “I am also working with the Garden Rangers as my job.” Ebony now has goals for her future that include continuing to work toward her GED, keep her part time job, attending college and eventually becoming a registered nurse. “I just keep setting goals for myself. I feel like now I really have potential,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of down times in my life, and since I’ve been here at Covenant House, things are coming around.”
Study Illustrates Dire Situation of Homeless Youth A recent study by the Covenant House Institute and the Columbia University Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies shows how important it is to continue the mission of helping homeless teens. “As disturbing as the statistics are, we hope that this study will help open the eyes of St. Louisans to the plight of these teens,” said Suzanne Wagener, Executive Director. “These findings can’t be ignored. These kids need our help now.” The study was conducted with local teens from Covenant House Missouri’s crisis program over a period of one year between March, 2008 and April, 2009. The findings paint a dire picture of the situation St. Louis area homeless youth face. These youth are at a disadvantage to obtaining an education, finding a job and making a livelihood. Homelessness and the surrounding events can be extremely traumatic. Most homeless teens have suffered some type of mental health issue. Of the teens in the study at Covenant house Missouri, thirty-three percent surveyed had experienced psychiatric hospitalization. “This is a groundbreaking study,” said Howard Andrews, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Biostatistics at Columbia. “I have been involved in many projects that can help inform policy in the long term. This study has immediate policy implications. This is a perfect example of how academia and an organization that does great work can collaborate to truly inform homeless policy.”
Some of the other staggering findings of the study included: History of Foster Care Placement: Findings indicate not only that a large number of youth had a history of foster care placement (43%), but also that they were initially placed at an early age (average of 7 years old) and remained in care for a lengthy period of time (average of 8 years). Experience of Violence: A significant proportion of the youth reported histories of violence with 47% reporting physical abuse, and 31% reporting sexual abuse. Unemployment: The majority of youth (74%) entered the shelter unemployed. Only 38% had ever completed a job training program. About the Study: Covenant House Institute is the research and leadership development arm of Covenant House. The Institute’s purpose is to advance research and leadership development in the social service sector working with homeless, runaway and at-risk youth. The Columbia Center for Homelessness Prevention Studies (CHPS) is a multidisciplinary effort to research homelessness and develop ways to prevent chronic homelessness among people with severe mental illness who comprise about 25 percent of homeless adults 18 and older. The Center involves collaborators from the New York State Psychiatric Institute, the Mailman School of Public Health, and many other departments and schools at Columbia University.
Brown Smith Wallace LLC Employees “Denimstrate” They Care
Brown Smith Wallace, a St. Louis-based business consulting firm, prides itself on involvement in social and charitable organizations in the metro area. Team members participate in more than 40 various charitable committees and support a variety of notable agencies.
Their corporate giving program, Denimstrate You Care™, allows employees to dress down in blue jeans and athletic shoes on selected days each month in exchange for a charitable donation. Brown Smith and Wallace then matches the donations given by employees. The donations are given to a different charity each month. During the months of January and February 2010, Covenant House Missouri was the chosen charity. CHMO volunteer Marty Doerr nominated the organization for the program, and the company raised $1,340 for Covenant House Missouri.
Having worked in corporate America my entire career, I was very comfortable presenting to CEOs, Corporate Boards and large audiences; but when Covenant House Missouri asked me to develop and deliver an eight-hour training session designed to help their youth improve their communication and interpersonal skills, I was as energized, nervous and excited as I had been for anything I had done in the business world. Why? This was an opportunity to work with CHMO youth “up close and personally” with the hope of positively impacting these young adults by providing them with realworld skills they had not been taught in the fractured worlds in which they had been raised. We met for two hours at a time, once a week for four consecutive weeks. I cannot begin to articulate how impressed I was with these young people. they were eager to learn and willing to engage in topics that were new or unfamiliar to them. We debated and discussed the proper way to shake someone’s hand, how non-verbal communications impact the way other’s view us, and why it is so important to speak with confidence in interactions with others. They soaked up as much information, advice and feedback as possible. CHMO provides these young adults with a safe environment, medical attention, GED training and the chance for a healthy and positive shot at a productive and good life. But they also recognize that many of their young adults are lacking in communication, interpersonal and conflict management skills; to this end, the staff is constantly trying to enrich the lives of these young people in ways that will allow them the opportunity to become contributing and positive members of our society. CHMO provides structure, safety, hope, a fresh start and most importantly, a chance for these challenged individuals to lead productive and meaningful lives. More than ever, I urge you to consider donating your time, money or energy to this incredibly worthwhile organization. I can assue you your gifts will touch the lives of these young adults in ways that will significantly alter their futures. -By Donna Kindl Retired Sr. Vice President, Monsanto Covenant House Missouri Volunteer
Covenant House Missouri Welcomes Four New Board Members!
“We are excited to welcome our new board members. We feel they will bring professionalism and energy to help our organization excel in our mission to help homeless and at-risk youth,” said Suzanne Wagener, Executive Director of Covenant House Missouri.
Mike Doyle is the Vice President of Mission and Ethics for Mercy Health Plans. “I welcome the opportunity to support and sustain the mission at Covenant House. It is important to give homeless youth the healing and hope they need to become well rounded adults,” says Doyle. Kevin Gold works as the General Manager at ITW Labels. He is pleased to join the Board of Directors saying, “I am very interested in helping Covenant House reach its goal of breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness and unemployment.” Gold went on to say, “I have seen firsthand the effects of homelessness and I now have the opportunity to do something about it by joining this board.” Katie Thiemann is the Director of Institutional Advancement at Cor Jesu Academy. Thiemann hopes to use her many years of business experience to help Covenant House grow. “I am excited to be part of the Covenant House board because of their mission of opening the doors of shelter and education to at risk teens. We are deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of the teens CHMO serves and seem to strive to find a way to heal body, mind and soul,” says Thiemann. Jim Klimt the Vice President of Sales at Duke Manufacturing states, “I am privileged and honored to be a part of the Board of the Covenant House.” Jim was at a gala where he first learned of the mission of Covenant House Missouri. He met young men and women who were helped by Covenant House and decided to join the cause. “By being part of the Covenant House family, I hope to be able to influence and positively affect the lives of the wonderful young men and women affiliated with the facility.”
The Missouri Department of Economic Development allows certain social service providers to offer 50% Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) tax credits to donors. You will be able to eliminate a portion of your Missouri tax obligation through your donation to Covenant House Missouri.
How it Works:
1. Make a donation of $1,000* or more to Covenant House Missouri. 2. Covenant House Missouri sends a tax credit form with an acknowledgement of your donation. 3. Fill out a simple one-page application and return it to Covenant House Missouri. 4. Covenant House Missouri will validate the application and forward it to the State of Missouri. 5. The State of Missouri processes the application (usually between two to six weeks) and will send you an Eligibility Certificate and MO-TC form which you then include with your state tax return.
For individuals filing an itemized return and making a $1,000 donation, your out-of-pocket cost is $265 and computed as follows:
For a donation of: The out-of-pocket cost is: $1,000 $265 $5,000 $1,325 $25,000 $6,625 Reduced Federal deduction for State tax paid based on a 35% Federal tax bracket.
=$265 Out of pocket cost
$1,000 Donation* $500 50% State Tax Credit $350 Federal charitable tax deduction based on a 35% Federal tax bracket. $60 Missouri charitable tax deduction based on a 6% State tax bracket $(175) Reduced Federal deduction for State tax paid based on a 35% Federal tax bracket
*A minimum of $1,000 donation is required to receive tax credits. Covenant House Missouri recommends that you consult a professional tax advisor when calculating tax benefits of this or any charitable gift.
For more information contact Sue Wagener at 314-450-7661 or email at email@example.com.
Non- Profit Organization U.S. POSTAGE PAID St. Louis, MO Permit # 695
Visit the www.CovenantHouseMO.org and Follow Us Online! Covenant House Missouri is excited to introduce the new www. covenanthousemo.org! Check out all of the new features to help you stay in touch and up to date with Covenant House Missouri news. Get inspired by stories of success, find out about upcoming events and show your support for Covenant House by checking us out today.
In our new Blog, you will be able to read about the latest happenings at Covenant House Missouri. Our youth are making an impact by changing their lives and the lives of those around them for the better. By following us on Twitter, you can view daily updates from Covenant House Missouri. Learn about homelessness and how you can help the youth of the St. Louis area to get off the streets. On our new YouTube channel, you can view videos from Covenant House Missouri. Here you will be inspired by our youth as they share their stories. You can also view recaps of our special events.