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2.28.20 – Club News

Club News written by Roger Morgenstern

It was great to take “Rotary on the Road” this week and visit Covenant House. We had our lunch meeting in what was a school gymnasium before Covenant House purchased the former Campbell Commons elementary school from Grand Rapids Public Schools. The school building now serves as an accredited “credit recovery program”  school for youth generally ages 16 to 22, where they can make up credits and get an official Michigan high school diploma. Many of these students have been kicked out of dropped out of high school for number of reasons: “aging out” of foster care, issues at home and substance abuse. Covenant House

Some of us took a tour of Covenant House’s new 28-bed shelter. There are 14 beds for each young men and women; the men’s portion has been open since late 2018; the women’s area should be open later this year when staffing is in place. The residents can stay for up to 90 days and there is a focus on life skills, employment and (if applicable) finishing school. The current average stay is 58 days, with the goal to get them into a permanent living situation when they leave.

Gerry gave us some sobering facts and figures about youth and homelessness:

  • About 4,700 youth in Michigan are considered “homeless.” Gerry said “we’re losing a whole generation of educated people and workforce.”
  • The new shelter is the largest of its kind in Michigan and serves people ages 18 to 25.
  • Covenant House has 31 locations worldwide. In Detroit they have 3 academies similar to Grand Rapids.
  • Covenant House Academy has two graduation ceremonies a year “and it’s a very moving experience.”
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