I didn't have a plan that brought me to Covenant House Pennsylvania. I graduated from law school, clerked for a couple of years and practiced for a few more. I liked my practice and my firm, but when I had an opportunity to work in New Jersey's foster care system - I had always been interested in government service - I took it. We were in charge of fixing New Jersey's system, and the work was incredibly challenging and meaningful. I joined Covenant House International in New York, the parent organization of all the Covenant House programs, and spent about five years there. It was good work too. They asked me to fill in temporarily at Covenant House Pennsylvania. I agreed, planning to go back to New York after a couple of months.
On my third day here, I met a young person named Adam. Adam was wearing a shirt that said "Bensalem High School" - where I had graduated from almost twenty-five years earlier. Turns out he grew up about a hundred yards away from where I did. The only difference between him and me was that my family hadn't put me out after high school. They'd supported me through college and law school instead.
A few weeks later I met another one of our young people, James, who had lived with us for a couple of years and was a great member of our community. He'd just received an award for heroism at his hospital security guard job because he'd stepped in and stopped a patient from stabbing a doctor. No matter the injustice of homelessness and the burdens he carried, he stepped into harm's way to protect someone he barely knew. Homelessness didn't define him. His courage and his selflessness did.
Adam taught me that every young person deserves a family like I had. James taught me that every young person - no matter what they've been through - has the potential to achieve. That's what we do at Covenant House Pennsylvania: we become family for our young people so we can help them overcome, transform, and succeed. Our young people inspire me each and every day; that's why this is the work of my life.
Mary Beth H. Gray, Chair
Partner, Kleinbard Bell & Brecker LLP
James E. Connolly
Former CEO, Aeras
Chief Financial Officer, Pepsi & National Brand Beverages, Ltd.
Group President, Toll Brothers, Inc.
Robert E. Gorman
Financial Advisor, Kita Gorman and Associates
Managing General Partner, Greenspring Associates
EVP and President AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation
Senior Vice President, Essent Guaranty
Vice President, Sales Manager, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Fox & Roach Realtors
W. Frank McGrane
Executive Vice President, Citizens Bank