William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.
William F. McKeon is president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center (photo: Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle)
President’s Perspective

Help Houston’s homeless youth by supporting Covenant House

The nonprofit provides homeless young adults with food, shelter, job training and more

Help Houston’s homeless youth by supporting Covenant House

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William F. McKeon is the president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center.

Imagine you’re a high school student and you dream about attending college when you graduate. Your financial needs are significant—you know college will require scholarships—but, fortunately, your grades are strong and your extracurricular achievements are considerable. The future looks bright.

Then, the news hits you when you arrive home from school one afternoon. Your 18th birthday you were looking forward to next week? There won’t be a celebration. Your foster parents inform you that, since you soon will be an adult, the guardianship payments they receive for caring for you will end. As a result, they say, it’s time for you to move out—immediately.

For a while, you find temporary refuge with friends. But as the months drag on, and through no fault of your own, you eventually end up living on the street and fending for yourself. Suddenly, you’re homeless.

Every year, young men and women in every city in the United States become part of the homeless community. The scenario described above is all too common. More than a quarter of foster children become homeless within a few years of leaving the foster system. These young adults—in some cases, teenagers—are likely not the people you see panhandling on street corners. In fact, you probably won’t see them at all, as they’re in the shadows—especially vulnerable and afraid.

Fortunately, here in Houston, the nonprofit Covenant House Texas provides a safe haven for these young people. Staff and volunteers travel the city daily, searching for young adults and providing them with food, housing, job training and life skills lessons, as well as medical, dental and mental health care.

The stories I hear when I visit Covenant House are heartbreaking, but they also fill me with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. I’m always impressed with how ambitious and eager these men and women are, despite the obstacles they’ve encountered.

As I drive through our city each day, I’m reminded of these young people who face tremendous adversity and I’m hopeful that we will find them before they fall victim to even greater harm. I am proud to work closely with Covenant House. I invite others to join me in supporting this important organization that defends some of our community’s most vulnerable residents.

William F. McKeon
President & CEO
Texas Medical Center

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