A Michigan woman, Stephanie Taylor has been honored for her remarkable 20 years of dedicated service to the homeless and at-risk runaway youth at Covenant House Michigan.
Taylor has done outreach for Covenant House Michigan for 20 years. She spends most of her time traveling the streets of Detroit in a Covenant House minivan, reaching out to youth to teach them about Covenant House Michigan and offer help if they need it. Covenant House Michigan is a nonprofit organization that provides shelter, educational and vocational programs, as well as other support services to homeless, runaway and at-risk youth ages 18-24.
Taylor said youth can become homeless for several reasons, including young people who are working and lose their jobs or those who just don’t make enough for affordable housing. They can also become victims of crime, including trafficking and not even realize their situation.
“Sometimes they’ll be at their so-called boyfriend’s house, which is really not a boyfriend’s,” she said. “What they’re doing is, ‘OK, you can stay here as long as you can do this.’ And it can be sex. … It can be, ‘You’ve got to do it with my friends. You’ve got to sell this.’ It can be a variety thing, and they still, in their minds, they don’t think they’re in a hopeless situation. They could think, ‘Oh, I’m at my boyfriend’s house,’ but they might have to sell drugs.
Covenant House Michigan has come to be known by area young people as a place they can go to build a better future and be treated with respect and unconditional love. Over 60,000 youths have been served by the faith-based organization since its inception in September 1997. “Usually when young people are homeless and they don’t have anywhere to go, they might sit in emergency rooms. They might go there to play like they’re sick. They might sit in the transit center because it’s free to get in,” Taylor told ClickOnDetroit.
“Usually when young people are homeless and they don’t have anywhere to go, they might sit in emergency rooms. They might go there to play like they’re sick. They might sit in the transit center because it’s free to get in,” Taylor said. For Taylor, watching young people get a new start is what keeps her going every day.
“This could be your child,” she said. “This can be your sister, your brother, and I tell people all the time, we’re not immune. Something (can) happen to us. Who is going to be out there to approach your kid if their family members turn their back on him? Just to hear kids say, ‘I wouldn’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t pulled up and helped me.'”