“Everything started long time ago when I was a kid. I went through abuse at home, on the streets, at school,” says 22-year-old Jamichael Lewis.
Lewis was a straight A student, but bullying broke him and Hurricane Katrina turned his life upside down.
“I was kind of sort of homeless. I lived in a house for three years with no lights, food or water,” says Lewis.
Eventually Lewis found Covenant House. At Covenant House they care for homeless, runaway and at-risk youth ages 22 and under.
In the past two years their average daily census has tripled from 44 to 138 kids per night. It’s why director Jim Kelly has organized a Sleep Out inviting those who do have warm beds to go home to, to be homeless for one night.
“The combination of sitting at the table and having a discussion and learning about their lives, and then when you actually step into the experience and you lie down on a sidewalk; look I’ve been caring for the homeless, I’ve been caring for the poor for 25 to 30 years of my life, I have never slept outside. I didn’t sleep. I was worthless the next day. So you start to think about, ‘Oh this person is homeless why aren’t they out looking for a job?’ They are sleeping with one eye open,” explains Director Jim Kelly.
The event has become one of their largest fundraisers. This year they’ll raise $200,000. It’s money that helps young adults like Jamichael Lewis get an education, find a job, and eventually become independent.