Bi-Partisan Group Raises Money and Awareness
On April 12, 2014, New Jersey state legislators slept on the Statehouse lawn in Trenton to raise awareness around the issue of youth homelessness and to raise money to end it. The group participating in the Covenant House Sleepout: Legislative Edition included members of both houses and both parties.
The group of legislators included:
- Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande (R-11),
- State Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-11),
- Assemblywoman Maria Rodriguez-Gregg (R-8),
- Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-15),
- Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15,
- Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3),
- Assemblywoman Grace Spencer (D-29),
- Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16),
- State Senator Pete Barnes (D-18),
- State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-35),
- State Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29),
- Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35),
- Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38), and
- Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37).
The event, the first-ever legislative sleepout in the U.S., began with discussions between and workshops that the legislators and Covenant House youth, ages 18-22, and staff participated in. Covenant House provides food, shelter and education to more than 2,000 homeless youth each year. The legislators then slept outside on cardboard and with sleeping bags.
“We have 3,800 homeless people under the age of 18 in the state, that is just a snapshot from January. We want to show solidarity and show those young people they’re not alone and we’re thinking of them.”
Assemblywoman Casagrande said in a Star-Ledger article.
“Those of us sleeping outside on the 11th will be lucky. We only have to do it for one night and it will be during the spring. Hundreds of youths sleep outside every night through the most brutal of seasons and during the harshest of weather.”
Said Senator Beck.
“These are kids who live in Newark or Atlantic City who were homeless and found their way to Covenant House. These kids are very resilient. We heard a lot of tragic stories. Many of these kids were raised by someone other than biological parents and left because the abuse was so great. At Covenant House their future was restored, and now they are excited to be able to dream again.”
Senator Vitale told PolitickerNJ.Com.
According to the Times of Trenton, the event raised more than $25,000 for Covenant House between contributions from legislators and sponsorship from the New Jersey Manufacturers.
Click here for more information from Covenant House.
Below are links to news coverage of the event: