The June 2019 arrest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has brought the issue of human trafficking into the news again. It is a good time to talk about how to refer to the victims and survivors of this evil.
Volunteer Opportunities: Yes
Covenant House Pennsylvania was incorporated in 1999, and we opened our first program during June of that year in Philadelphia. Services began humbly with a Street Outreach and Drop-In program that worked predominantly with street youth in the Kensington section of the city. Youth were offered a place to eat, do laundry and get referrals for more complex needs such as housing and medical care. Immediately it became obvious that we needed to expand services due to the large number of homeless youth who came to our doors with no place to go.
Many of the youth who stay with us in our Crisis Center have nowhere else to go. Their family life all too often involved abuse, neglect, violence, or addiction, until they were removed by the foster care system, fled to escape their situation, or were pushed out by family who could not–or would not–care for them. The common factor in all these cases is the need to have a safe, stable living environment where they can learn the necessary skills to cross the bridge to independence.
To help our youth make this transition, we created our Rights of Passage program in 2003. In 2011, we built a beautiful new Rights of Passage building that houses twenty youth in their own apartments, where we can give them the support they need. We built this new building on the same site where the original Covenant House Drop-In Center stood on Kensington Avenue, showing our commitment to the neighborhood and to our kids who live there.
“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 effects the presence of God, working through the Holy Spirit among ourselves and our kids.”