Organizations that Make a Difference – Covenant House Florida
Organization: Covenant House Florida
Executive: Reneé Trincanello, Chief Executive Officer
Address: 733 Breakers Ave., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Tell us about Covenant House.
Our mission is to provide a safe and nurturing home for youth who are experiencing homelessness. We give at-risk youth a safe place to rest while we offer them opportunities to meet their basic needs and develop their independent living skills.
Covenant House Florida provides a safe haven for at-risk and youth experiencing homelessness by providing shelter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Youth arrive at our doorstep sometimes with only the clothes on their back. Often the youth have recently experienced a physical or emotional trauma.
Covenant House Florida’s caring staff bring the youth in and provide them with nourishing meals, clean clothes and a safe place to sleep. The youth are offered a list of comprehensive supportive services – including health/ medical services, substance abuse treatment and behavioral health counseling, onsite education and job readiness assistance, workforce development, parenting education, transitional and rapid rehousing programs with the end goal – to help them either to become reunified with their families or exit into a stable or permanent housing solution.
What year did you open?
How long have you been in business?
Key people in your organization? Tell us their story.
Renee’ Trincanello, Chief Executive Officer, Covenant House Florida: Renee’ is a licensed clinical social worker and non-profit executive who has dedicated her career to servant leadership and advocacy for South and Central Florida’s most vulnerable youth. She is a respected leader in the field of youth services with over 18 years of behavioral health, administrative and executive management service to CHF and the community. Her vision has accelerated innovation in program efficiency, best service practices and fiscal independence while remaining true to CHF’s core values and fostering a culture of inclusivity.
Maria Shorkey, Chief Operating Officer, Covenant House Florida – Orlando: For the past sixteen years, Maria Shorkey has served as a voice for youth and children experiencing homelessness. Ms. Shorkey has dedicated her career to engendering the necessary financial support to expand the services and programs available to these youth in the Central Florida community. As the Chief Operating Officer for Covenant House Florida in Orlando, Ms. Shorkey ensures that the services provided are in alignment with the agency’s Mission. This nonprofit organization offers housing options, as well as programs and services designed to meet the unique needs of youth in crisis. Ms. Shorkey has worked diligently to cultivate relationships with community partners and local donors to ensure that youth experiencing homelessness can achieve their full potential. Last year, the nonprofit organization reached more than 850 youth in need.
Tell us why you do, what you do, for a living.
It is a little cliché, I started out wanting to help youth. I had several experiences when I was younger that compelled me to want to be a person that makes young people feel heard. I started at Covenant House as a social work student in a master’s program at Barry University in 2001 and I never left. My heart and soul is connected to our mission and as opportunities continued to become available to me, I continued to try them out. 18 years later here I am. I still pride myself on helping our youth feel heard, raising awareness for the fight against homelessness and pursuing every opportunity I can to help lift our youth up. Their resilience and intelligence and strength astonishes me every day.
How do you help your community?
Since opening its doors in 1985, Covenant House Florida has improved the lives of more than 39,000 youth. We provide holistic trauma informed supportive services including; GED classes, enrollment in local middle or high schools, job skills training, family, group and individual therapy, life skills training and other age-appropriate, growth-related opportunities and advancement for disadvantaged youth experiencing homelessness so our youth can contribute as positive and productive members of the community.
Special community/philanthropic involvement, campaigns, contributions or events?
Sleep Out South Florida typically happens the Thursday during the week before Thanksgiving day in November. Sleep Out is an international movement of individuals who spend one night sleeping on the street so youth facing homelessness don’t have to. Sleep Out is not about pretending to be homeless. It’s a demonstration to young people, who are so often ignored, that they are not alone. Sleep Out South Florida is hosted onsite at Covenant House Florida and is a great opportunity to learn directly from our youth about their experiences with homelessness. Participants can sign up starting in June. Sleepers typically raise $1,000 -$10,000 each through peer-to-peer fundraising. Last year Covenant House Florida hosted more than 100 sleepers and raised over $330,000 for youth experiencing homelessness. More details at: www.sleepoutsouthflorida.org.
The Young Professionals for Covenant House is a group of young professionals ages 23-40 who host events to raise funds and bring awareness for Covenant House Florida. Joining YPFCH offers many opportunities to serve Covenant House Florida through monthly Cov Fun Night activities with the youth, planning socials and special events, participating in the annual Sleep Out: South Florida fundraiser, becoming a committee or board member, and making great friendships.
An annual membership of $50 includes entry to monthly networking events at the trendiest locations in Fort Lauderdale. Members and guests receive free drinks and lite bites at events and have the opportunity to mingle with like-minded professionals. Join the movement to help end youth experiencing homelessness while making new connections and having fun! To join, visit: www.covenanthousefl.org/young-professionals-for-covenant-house-florida.
Special assistance to individuals, customers or the community-at-large in connection to the COVID-19 crisis?
As many young people hunker down with their families during the COVID-19 crisis, the population in America who are experiencing homelessness, do not have that luxury. This opens the door to greater risk of contracting the coronavirus along with other communicable diseases. Covenant House Florida is keeping its doors open and its programs functioning for all children and young adults who are without a safe place to live. This ensures that there are options for youth ages 11-21 to escape the COVID-19 threat on our streets.
What advice would you have for others in the NONPROFIT sector trying to make it day after day?
Remember your passion for the mission of your organization. Remind yourself of your role to raise awareness and educate. Our consumers need us and we need to stay relevant. Although many donors are finding themselves falling onto hard times, there are many out there that can and do want to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for financial assistance from your supporters. Offset your budget by asking for in-kind donations. People want to help, but they need to know what the issues are and specifically what they can do.
Anything else you would like to share.
The young people that live at Covenant House have the same needs as the young people you have in your life. Except right now, they do not have the support of family and friends. They have the support of Covenant House. Help us help them make this homeless experience acute and brief. This is a moment in their life that they will overcome. They can and will go on to do incredible things. During these times, it is important to acknowledge that the longer that schools and businesses are closed, the more vulnerable young people will continue to be. They are at risk of being abused, trafficked, and taken advantage of during these times. If you see something, do something! Please let them know that Covenant House is here to help.