Covenant House NJ Works to Get Homeless Youth Off Streets
As a part of our "Newark at a Crossroads" series, taped at NJIT, Steve Adubato sits down with Janette Scrozzo, Development Director of Covenant House New Jersey, to talk about the organization's long mission to get homeless youth off the streets and on the right track to productive, happy lives.
"Janette Scrozzo is development director of a terrific organization called Covenant House New Jersey. Covenant House is an international organization right? Yes it is. Founded? 1972. And you were a little kid, and you were 16 years of age in a Catholic high school, and the leader of Covenant House came in and what happened? I was really inspired. I remember sitting at the assembly, listening to the founder talk about Covenant House, the plight of homeless kids, and I was really inspired by the young people's courage and resiliency, and I... stayed with me for a very very long time, near and dear to my heart. And Covenant House's mission, describe it. Our mission is to serve suffering children of the street with absolute respect and unconditional love. Every young person that comes to our doors is welcomed, and we provide food, clothing, and shelter, and then all the necessary services to move kids from homelessness into independence. You know, we were talking right before we got on the air, there are more kids, young people, who are homeless than ever before? Correct. Who are they? You know, the kids that we're seeing are coming from all over New Jersey, it's just not inclusive to urban kids. They're coming from urban communities as well. But they're aged out foster kids, they're kids that have been abused and neglected, kids who haven't had much support from family. But I think the most important thing about those kids when they come through our doors at Covenant House, they have a courage to walk through and say, "I'm alone, I'm homeless, and I need help," and those are the kids that we're seeing. So they come in, and we're looking at the Newark Crisis Center, and by the way, we'll put up the information for Covenant House, for people to find a way that they can be helpful, they can contribute money, they can contribute time, what do these young people need? Well, they need a start. They need a beginning. Most of the young people, prior to coming to Covenant House, have been through, really insurmountable challenges. They've been living on the street, they've been living in abandoned buildings, they've been living in parks, and what they really need is just someone to give them a helping hand. You know, Covenant House isn't a "hand out" it's really a "hand up" to help kids achieve their goals and their dreams and to move forward in their lives. Some of these kids dealing with drugs? Yeah, I mean we have kids that have been involved in drugs and gangs... Human trafficking? Human trafficking is a big piece of..."