At CHNJ, we’re so much more than “just” food and shelter. Our passion makes us a community our youth can trust and often keeps us connected over many years with some of our young people. Theresa was a part of Covenant House New Jersey over two decades ago and has stayed connected to us through our Alumni network. Read an alum’s powerful story.
Theresa was a part of Covenant House Atlantic City over two decades ago and has stayed connected to us through our Alumni network. Theresa makes a choice each day to leverage her past experiences towards moving forward and helping others–what a beautiful thing!
Her childhood living with an abusive and alcoholic mom was chaotic, and “it was normal” to witness domestic violence in the home. “Weekends were hell” at her father’s house, and she was placed under the care of child services for several years. Theresa acted out at school and was suspended often. Still, she graduated high school and spent time in the Job Corps, a voluntary program administered by the United States Department of Labor that offers free education and vocational training to young men and women ages 16 to 24.
Options limited by the time she completed the program, Theresa chose to take the pain from her earlier years and turn it into a fight. “My fight was to get my own place, “she says. She learned that Covenant House in Atlantic City would provide her the opportunity to achieve that goal within the year she had given herself. Within three weeks of arriving, she’d secured two jobs and moved into the Rights of Passage Program where she saved every penny she could. She “found compassion” in the staff and connected with other young people facing similar struggles. “I formed relationships there,” many of which she continues today. Theresa remains part of the CHNJ community and many youth that continue to walk into and out of our CHNJ buildings, each year become new members. You can hear from some of our more recent youth with the video below or read more stories here.