International non-profit organization Covenant House is working with Broadway professionals to coordinate its sixth annual “Sleep Out: Stage and Screen” in New York City on August 20th to raise funds for homeless youth.
A few blocks from Broadway theaters in New York City, a community of Broadway actors and other professionals in the film and TV industries will join the staff outside of Covenant House New York at 7pm and will not leave until 7am the following morning. As usual, the event will take place outside and Covenant House provides its sponsored sleepers with sleeping bags, and often times, a cardboard box to spend the night in. The sleepers are expected to find sponsors and raise as much money as they can — all of which goes directly to Covenant House resources.
Peer-to-peer director Colleen Veldt told Sleepopolis in an interview that “sleeping out” has helped Covenant House get more than 1.5 million young adults off the streets and into one of its shelters.
We pride ourselves on being more than just a homeless shelter,” Veldt explained, “because we are serving kids in a very difficult time in their lives and we are trying to give kids whatever they need to get out of their situation. We offer resources to lift them up in their time of need and to stop them from falling any lower.
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She went on to say that the Sleep Out: Stage and Screen is a “very special event” and is expected to host crew members and performers from a variety of Broadway shows. However, not every Broadway professional is eligible to sleep out with the crew this August; you must be at least 23 years of age and commit to raising a minimum of $1,500 in order to join this particular event.
SLEEPING OUT SO OTHERS CAN SLEEP IN
The participants of the upcoming sleep out have set the collective goal of raising $300,000. It may seem like a lot, but 13 participants have already reached nearly $14,000 in sponsored donations. Covenant House’s VP of public relations Tom Manning told Sleepopolis that they raise money through more traditional means like direct mail and donations from corporations and foundations, but sleeping out has become “their best source of funding by far.”
A few highlights. At this time last night, 83 members of the Broadway community were setting up sleeping bags on the concrete outside of @covenant_house hoping to grab a few hours of shuteye. This year's fifth annual #BroadwaySleepOut was just as beautiful as the first. I am continually inspired by the generosity of this community and all the friends, family and strangers who've made donations to keep @covenant_house's doors open so they can best serve the courageous young people who walk through them in pursuit of the next, brighter phase of their lives. This year, as a first time committee member, I have an even deeper respect for the dedicated and tireless staff who embody the unconditional love and respect they envelop these young men and women with. There's a lot of darkness out there right now, but this place, the people who call it home and everyone who made last night possible are shining a lot of light out there. Thank you. 💙
The Stage and Screen sleepers are grouped into teams, typically according to the Broadway show they performed in. The teams that have been assembled for this event are Broadway Ushers United, Team Frozen, Strangelove, and the sleep out’s top team, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Rachel Brosnahan is the team captain and she will be largely responsible for helping to organize the group’s fundraising efforts. She and her team have already raised over $3,000.
Veldt asserted that the participants of the Broadway sleep out are not “pretending to be homeless”, and while everyone is expected to sleep outside, there is always an indoor component should there be an urgent need. Participants are not obligated to complete their 24 hour sleep out, and according to Veldt, many have been unable to go through with it. Veldt went on to tell me that “being unable to endure one night of sleeping outside should shine a light on how difficult it must be to spend every night outside, and how important it is to have a safe place to sleep.”
About the Sleep Out: Stage and Screen, Veldt told Sleepopolis, “it’s a wonderful experience to welcome them into our home, they’re so wonderful with our kids. It’s going to be a great event.”
Featured image courtesy of: @shawna_brazell on Instagram