Last Thursday night, GCJ’s Metairie branch showed their solidarity with the homeless or struggling youth of New Orleans in a fundraiser hosted by Covenant House called the Sleep Out. The young men and women on the streets of the greater New Orleans area are some of the most broken members of the vibrant and vital city. They are at a greater risk for serious injury, mental illness, and crime. In an effort to raise both money and awareness for Covenant House and their mission, the Sleep Out is an annual event where members of the community can bring a sleeping bag and quite truly “sleep out” to experience a small fraction of the homelessness of those in south Louisiana. As a firm, our greatest desire is to help people before, throughout, and after they experience trauma, injury, or tragedy. This year’s sleep out raised $515,000 from a record breaking 200+ sleepers!
Participants in the sleep out attempt raise money on their own. Friends, family, and colleagues are encouraged to make donations to the sleepers who spend an entire night sleeping outside of Covenant House in the chilly temperatures in support of the people who experience homelessness on a daily basis. Though primarily a fundraiser to increase Covenant House’s funds for programs, clothes, and other goods, the event also allows a unique and beautiful opportunity for New Orleans residents. Sleepers can spend a whole night with people who have experienced great trauma or poverty and who have kept on pushing to make a better life for themselves. The night is full of shared stories, support, and great camaraderie for a group of people –that may often feel that the whole city is against them.
Here are just a few of the figures that Covenant House boasts of on their website:
-255 victims of human trafficking received services from the Greater New Orleans Human Trafficking Task Force
-259 youth were provided with supplies such as food, water, and hygiene products
-281 youth were helped by CH’s employment programs (job search, retention skills, mock interviews)
-446 youth took refuge from the streets at CH
If you’re interested, more information regarding the youth of Greater New Orleans can be found here.
GCJ attorney Daniel Poolson, legal assistant Jeanne Guillot, and colleague Madison Bruce all attended the sleep out and raised funds from their friends and neighbors. All three of them were eager for the opportunity to meet people in their community that they may not have met otherwise. GCJ, perhaps more than some other personal injury firms, places a premium on people and their stories. This holds true for our clients, our larger communities, and even within our own office walls. We like to believe this is what practicing law is all about: real people and their real lives.
Here are the memories that Danny, Jeanne, and Madison brought back after their night on the streets of New Orleans:
Jeanne—”The Sleep Out at Covenant House made a huge impact on me. Covenant House is providing teens and young adults the love, support, and life skills that many of their own families did not give them. Hearing the hurdles and personal experiences of the past and current residents and how they have overcome those hurdles is truly inspiring and gives me hope. It has also made me reflect on my past and how grateful I am that I had a wonderful support system when I needed it most.”
Madison—”Getting to experience, first hand, the bravery of those that have been put in a position of hardship, but are still fighting for a better life, was extremely moving. I believe it is so important to never forget that we all share a human desire for respect and love. Covenant House of New Orleans offers, in my opinion, some of the best care physically and emotionally to individuals working toward that better life. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others, and I am grateful to work at a place that lives that out so well.”
If you are in the New Orleans area and want to support this organization, or if you live further away and still want to donate, visit Covenant House’s Get Involved page!
For more information about other community organizations GCJ has partnered with, check out our Community Involvement page!
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