A published poet, Pulitzer Prize winner and co-author with a lawyer, grassroots legal aid, President of the Covenant House International co-wrote this summer reading book, “Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope.”
Kevin Ryan, the President of the Covenant House International, has been a lawyer, grassroots legal aid and an activist for homeless young adults all around the world and on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Cabrini was privileged to welcome Ryan to campus.
Ryan was this year’s Executive-in-Residence, where he came with his co-author, published poet and Pulitzer Prize winner, Tina Kelley to speak to students, alumni, faculty and staff about the effects homelessness has on children.
The Covenant House serves more than 56,000 at-risk youth in 21 cities in the United States, Canada and Central America. In a world where there are 5,000 kids, in the United States alone, a year who die on the streets due to suicide or disease.
“Real heroes are usually the ones concerned with the least glamorous of things,” Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker said. “In fact, I’ve come to believe strongly that the most heroic or biggest thing we can do in any day is a small act of kindness, decency or love.”
Ryan was ecstatic to speak to students about the process of writing Almost Home, while speaking out against homelessness in young adults.
“We wanted to be able to reflect how high the stakes are for young people at this juncture in their lives,” Ryan said. “There is a darkness that looms so largely for a lot of young people and that the ability for young people to hold on or continue to climb, up that ladder – across that bridge from poverty to opportunity, isn’t easy. It has a real set of challenges associated with it that claims lives.”
Homelessness is an issue that continues to plague our society every single day.
“My favorite part was hearing the point of view of Kevin Ryan on the atmosphere of the Covenant House,” freshman, Mary Kate Morris said. “It was great meeting the writers and hearing the goals that they have for young adults who need support and inspiration.”
After months of reading the summer reading, freshman finally got to book a face to the words written by such powerful, motivated and compassionate writers. During the summer, freshman were asked to write an essay with prompts about the book. Future political science major, Dan Pelosi won this year’s Summer Reading Essay Award.
“It felt great winning the contest because I never really considered myself to be much of a writer, I never won anything like that in high school or grade school and it also made me extremely proud and happy to kick off college by winning an essay contest,” Pelosi said. “Kevin congratulated me several times and was actually a really down to earth guy and I enjoyed talking to him.”
Despite Pelosi’s win the question remains, what about homelessness?
“I don’t know what to do about this, I don’t know what to do about the fact that there are 2 million homeless teenagers on the streets of America, I don’t know what to do about the fact that parents kick their kids out because they are gay, I don’t know what to do about the fact that 30,000 kids age out of foster care and don’t have a place to living, I don’t know what to do about that,” Ryan said. “But we knew that while there wasn’t one thing that one of us can do, there’s a lot that all of us can do.”