It’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S., a time for gratefulness and gathering. For most of us, having a safe place to live and enjoy time with friends and family is something we take for granted. Just like having a comfortable bed, a door that locks, food in the cupboard, and water that runs from a tap.
Millions of homeless youth don’t have these basic comforts or even a safe place to land each night. As a parent, this is a devastating reality and I feel a personal responsibility to help do something about it. Last week, I participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out event in St. Louis with a team from Cisco and others from the community. We spent a snowy night outdoors with only a sleeping bag and a cardboard box. One evening experiencing the cold, uncertainty, and discomfort homeless kids live with every day to raise money and hopefully change that for many of them.
Covenant House is an organization of good people doing good things to help homeless youth. They provide love and care, shelter and support to give these kids a chance to grow and become independent. As part of our evening, we had an opportunity to tour the facility and meet several of the kids. Most were shy and reserved, but some shared their stories and their talents – like the young man whose saxophone melody concluded our candlelight vigil, and the group of kids who built us a snowman.
There are dozens of these Sleep Out events held across the country, and it’s a powerful way to walk in another person’s shoes and really appreciate your own circumstances. I’m proud to work for a company with such a strong culture of giving, that supports me and every other employee in our efforts to contribute to communities in need. For Cisco, at our core is a desire to help and we are always listening – to our customers, our partners, our communities, and people all around the world.
Thank you, Covenant House, for the hospitality and for the important work you are doing to help these kids. It was only one night for me, but I hope it did make a difference.