First of all, I want to thank everybody for all the support I’ve received this past month on my journey with Covenant House. There have been many generous donations and lots of moral support.
On Thursday night, I completed a couple of firsts in my life: sleeping outside and sleeping in a sleeping bag as part of the annual Covenant House Sleep Out. I knew it was going to be tough physically and mentally. And I was right.
The night started with registration and some mingling with some 60 plus people – some who were first-timers like me and some who had come back to support this great cause once again. We did a tour of Covenant House to get a feel for the work they do with our homeless youth. I was very impressed. We then got to sit down and listen to a panel that included workers from Covenant House and some youth that were staying there to turn their lives around.
The Whitecaps have been working with Covenant House for a number of years and I have been fortunate to meet and talk to a number of kids that have found themselves on the streets and have found this safe haven that has given them hope. They tell their story of finding Covenant House and getting the support they need to turn their lives around and to start making a difference in their community. These are kids that amaze and inspire me.
Eventually, it was time to get my piece of cardboard and my sleeping bag and find a place to sleep on the street. We had some steady rain in the first hour or so, which kept me awake for the most part. I did my best to get comfortable, but it wasn’t easy.
And it was strange because even though there were 60 plus men and women around me, when I shut my eyes I really felt like I was alone. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel safe, because there were Covenant House staff who stayed awake to watch over us, but I did feel vulnerable and alone.
Then I started to think about the kids that are truly on their own on the streets. The kids who do this every night. The kids who don’t have a life like mine to go back to when the night is over.
Those are the kids that Covenant House strives to help.
It’s an amazing place that provides food, shelter, and an opportunity to build relationships with youth workers to help them move forward in life and achieve their goals. So I just want to thank Covenant House for all the work they do, and to all those who supported me through this process.
It was a challenging but wonderful experience that left me truly inspired.
Whitecaps FC Ring of Honour inductee Carl Valentine is the club's all-time leader in appearances and fourth all-time in goals scored. Currently, Valentine serves as a club ambassador.