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Alumna Raises Homelessness Awareness

May 11, 2015

Karen Coviello has grown up surrounded by the warmth, safety and security of her family, something she realized she took for granted when she became involved in supporting Covenant House.

It is the largest privately funded agency in the Americas providing shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and an array of other services to homeless and runaway youth.

Coviello, a 2010 Susquehanna University graduate in communications, first heard of the organization from a friend.

"After learning that Covenant House is more than just a shelter and actually helps homeless youth break out of the cycle of poverty, I knew I wanted to be involved," she said. "I just couldn't imagine the idea that there are young adults out there who have no one and have to survive on the streets alone."

Coviello and other supporters slept outside the night of March 20 on West 41st Street in New York City during Covenant House's Young Professional Edition Sleep Out. Coviello has worked as a senior marketing coordinator at WithumSmith+Brown, a public accounting and consulting firm, since graduating from Susquehanna.

Coviello and her fellow supporters were given a cardboard box, a sleeping bag and a trash bag. She used her cardboard box to avoid the wet ground and then put the trash bag around the bottom of her sleeping bag to keep out the moisture. The elements-freezing rain and snow-were unkind, and she was startled at least once by a passerby. She only got about an hour's sleep, and she said it was one of the hardest things she's ever experienced, physically and mentally.

"There was no way I could sleep on the street and then go and try to be a productive member of society, or look for a job or go on a job interview. I kept thinking how hard it must be to actually break out of this cycle on your own."

To help homeless youth, she now serves on the Associate Board of Central Jersey for Covenant House and invites more Susquehanna students and alumni to join her.

"Susquehanna engrained the service spirit in me as a young adult," she said.

If you are interested in learning more about supporting Covenant House, contact Coviello at kcoviello@withum.com or through Twitter at @KaZeCo.

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