“We as a community need to take a stand” -- It’s 6am on the streets of Anchorage and already, downtown is teeming with activity, some of it not so pleasant. Our outreach team happens upon four teenage girls who had recently arrived from rural Alaska – huddled together and penniless, hungry, scared and with no place to stay. The girls point out a car waiting down the street, with two older men – strangers – who had promised them “jobs” and “living arrangements”.
We know too well that hunger can drive a child to desperation – and into the arms of sex traffickers. Thankfully, our outreach team is there to intervene. We invite the girls into Covenant House for a hot breakfast and safe refuge. They seem relieved and quietly accept. I’m thankful to report that these young girls are now in our shelter. They are safe and now receiving services they so desperately need.
Sadly, this is not the first time we’ve seen trafficking on the streets in Anchorage. It is a despicable and ever-present threat to homeless youth. But that is why Covenant House Alaska exists. To get homeless and at-risk youth off the dangerous streets and away from criminals who prey on them -- and into a place filled with love, respect and guidance to build a new life for themselves.
As I write, our shelter is running at full capacity – all 60 beds filled with young people who would otherwise have no place to turn. In the 20 years that I have worked at Covenant House, I have never seen the streets so filled with so many homeless youth -- and so much hopelessness. It’s a desperation that often comes with volatile consequences. With homelessness increasing in Anchorage, we as a community need to take a stand. We need all the help we can get and we can’t do it alone.
Nearly 70 percent of our funding comes from private donations like yours. We are truly grateful for the kindness and generous spirits of Alaskans like you.