Covenant House helps at-risk youth in Metro Detroit get back on their feet

Ryan Stogiera shares how nonprofit organization helped him

DETROIT – At-risk youth are being given a second chance thanks to a Detroit-based nonprofit organization.

This week in our Your Neighborhood segment, we’re going inside Covenant House and meeting a young man who is trying his best to get back on his feet and rekindle a relationship with his mother after he found himself without a place to live.

“You don’t know what your next move is," Ryan Stogiera said. “You don’t know when your next meal is going to be, especially not having a job.”

That’s how Stogiera, 22, described his life. Not too long ago he was homeless with no place to go.

"I was sleeping on just a thin blanket, my book bag as a pillow and a sheet as a blanket, and I had it over my feet and over my head to keep the cool breeze from hitting my face,” Stogiera said.

A strained relationship with his family and a probation violation led him to Covenant House. It was a chance to start over and get his life together.

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “It was a warm feeling. It was like -- I felt like I’m at home.”

“When they come in here, they’re coming in with a lot of trauma and a lot of personal issues, without any I.D., any kind of self-management,” Covenant House Executive Director Gerry Piro said. “We begin that process with helping them get back on their feet. We’re hoping the end game is a job and a permanent place to live.”

Stogiera has been at Covenant House for about three months. There, he and other at-risk youth -- ages 18-24 -- can stay for a short or extended period of time. They live there while working to earn a G.E.D., find a job and eventually get back on their feet.

“They come in with so many issues that would break your heart that a young person at that age is going through that kind of trauma, going through this kind of difficulty, and their life has barely begun,” Piro said.

Piro said the goal of Covenant House is to show young adults they are loved. With all the support he’s received, Stogiera now has big goals.

“My goal is to eventually own a tattoo shop here in Detroit, and a clothing store -- two in one,” he said.

He also hopes to rekindle his relationship with his mother. He had this to say to her:

“I’d say I love her, and I miss her.”

Covenant house staffers spend time hitting the streets to identify at-risk youth in the area. If you know someone, ages 18-24, that needs help, click here to visit the organization’s website.

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