When I first joined the Langone Student Government (LSG) Philanthropy Team back in April, I had expected to be involved in fundraising and charitable endeavors. I would have never thought that this would translate to me sleeping outside on a chilly fall night, but two weekends ago, that’s exactly what I did. On Saturday night, October 22, the Stern community proudly and bravely joined the Covenant House Sleep Out movement.
Covenant House is the largest agency serving homeless youth in North America, and they are an entirely privately funded nonprofit. Covenant House provides shelter, education, healthcare, and other services to homeless youth throughout the Americas. The Sleep Out movement was designed to raise funds while driving empathy for homeless youth around the country. At Sleep Outs, participants hear from Covenant House residents, and then brave the elements to sleep outside on the pavement for a night.
The LSG Philanthropy team partnered with Covenant House to host the first-ever on-site Stern Sleep Out. This was the first ever Sleep Out hosted at a graduate school (let alone a top business school!), and it’s safe to say that the event was a success.
Planning an overnight fundraising event is no easy feat, but the LSG Philanthropy team worked closely together to make everything run smoothly. After spending the summer planning and sorting out logistics, we spent September recruiting “sleepers.” By October, we were in full-on fundraising mode. All of our sleepers were given a goal of $1,000, but there was no minimum requirement to joining in on the night. No donation was seen as too little or too small – it all went straight to the kids of Covenant House! Our 22 participants raised over $20,000 combined.
After months of planning, it was time to execute on October 22. The evening’s programming kicked off at 8:30 pm with a panel of three youth from the Covenant House located in Newark, NJ. As these three young adults shared their personal anecdotes of living in the streets and that they now made new lives for themselves, I reconfirmed my belief that LSG Philanthropy made the right decision in investing in this charity.
After the panel ended and the Covenant House youth went home, the sleepers all discussed what impacted them the most from the panel. The sleepers then headed outside and camped out right on Gould Plaza in the corner between Tisch and KMC. We spent the evening bonding, playing cards, and drinking hot chocolate to make the time pass. This event was like no other at Stern in that it was a truly unique, shared experience. As the night progresses, more and more of us laid our heads down to sleep for a few hours. We slept on the ground with cardboard boxes and sleeping bags, but no mattress or pillow, as our buffers from the concrete. We all went home on Sunday morning feeling tired, but inspired.