Covenant House is one of the oldest and largest charities in America dedicated to helping children and youth overcome homelessness and trafficking. Though its roots are in Catholic social justice teaching, Covenant House serves all young people regardless of their backgrounds, religions, and beliefs.

Its constituency is huge—just last year Covenant House reached almost 74,000 youth in the U.S. and globally. The organization operates in 31 cities across six countries: the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

And in fact, Covenant House has had an international presence for the past 40 years of its almost 50-year history—its second site was built in 1981 in Guatemala, as a response to the vast number of children left orphaned and homeless there during the civil war.

“We’ve actually been international from the very start,” says Chris Megargee, the Seattle-based Latin American Ambassador for Covenant House International. “And it’s kind of unique in that Covenant House is both a domestic and international NGO—there’s not a lot of organizations that fit that bill.” 

Covenant House’s commitment to meeting the immediate, basic needs of youth experiencing homelessness in the U.S. includes both drop-in and residential centers.

“When a kid walks through our doors, we’re providing them food, a shower, clean clothes, medical attention, and a safe place to sleep,” explains Megargee. “But we are far more than just a homeless shelter. There’s a broad suite of programs that extends far beyond those immediate needs.”

These programs are part of what Covenant House calls the “continuum of care” model—an array of services, including mental health care, substance use treatment and prevention, education and job readiness programs, legal aid services, pre- and post-natal support for young mothers, and transitional and supportive apartment living programs. These services are provided on site by multi-disciplinary teams of doctors, lawyers, social workers, teachers, and addiction treatment specialists.

“We have a robust lineup of experts to address those broad needs along that continuum of care,” says Megargee.

Megargee describes the programs and services that Covenant House provides as being “very much trauma-informed,” and meant to operate as a bridge from homelessness to hope.

Read the full article about Covenant House by Amber Cortes at Global Washington.