Vol. 54, No. 2

In this edition

The Ripon Society has long believed that America works best when Americans work together.  With a global pandemic paralyzing our country and the world, we decided to publish a Special Edition focused on those Americans who are doing just that.

On the Front Lines of the Fight

Neil Ehmig is a military veteran representing the next generation. Instead of going overseas, he’s fighting a battle blocks away from his home to try to keep his community safe.

A Critical Lifeline in a Time of Need

For the past two decades, Amazon and our workers have built an infrastructure to deliver goods quickly and reliably. We are proud of the role we play to ease the pain of this pandemic, serving as a lifeline for millions of consumers and small businesses.

Thank God for Truckers

Everything we need to fight COVID-19 is moved from Point A to Point B by a truck driver. Without truckers, grocery store shelves and hospital supply rooms would be empty. The result would be chaos. 

Training Displaced Workers is Key to Getting Americans Back to Work & Stimulating the Economy

By giving people a pathway to a job in the tech sector, we are helping fill an urgent need for trained and certified professionals.

A Shelter from the Storm

Shelter at home means one thing when you have a home. But what does it mean when you have no home, especially when you’re a young person on your own, unsure where to sleep, eat, or find refuge from the pandemic?

Partnerships are Key to Defeating COVID-19

We know that in order to re-open the country, testing is key. CVS Health is utilizing its expansive community presence to bring COVID-19 testing closer to home.

Doing Her Part

With wider-spread coronavirus testing needed in America, Jami Clark — a FedEx specialist and C-17 pilot with the Tennessee National Guard — took to the skies to pilot a joint overseas mission, transporting nearly one million test swabs from Italy.

To Beat this Crisis, We Need to Fight Hunger

No American should have to wonder where their next meal will come from, before, during or after a food crisis like this one. At Feeding America, this crisis has challenged our network to continue to provide nutritious meals.

The Food Industry Rewrites its Playbook on Crisis Response

It’s in times of emergency that we realize the true resiliency of our supply chain. Our industry has worked around the clock to replenish and restock shelves, while ensuring the cleanliness of stores and the safety of its associates.

How GM is Mobilizing to Combat a Global Crisis

At General Motors and across the auto industry, generations of employees have been counted on to develop solutions during times of crisis. Today is no different.

Essential Changes Required During Times of Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our country in ways we could have never imagined.  Since day one, The Home Depot has been committed to serving our community as an “essential” retailer.

Response to COVID-19 will Make Us All Stronger

Last month, Honda began building an entirely new product in our 40-year history of building things in America – diaphragm compressors for life-saving ventilators to help victims of COVID-19.

Bringing a Long History of Innovation to the Fight Against COVID-19

At Sanofi, the drive to transform the practice of medicine has taken on increased urgency for everyone in the Sanofi family since the global emergence of COVID-19.

Delivering Hope With Every Package

While the coronavirus continues to impact all facets of our everyday lives, one thing hasn’t changed at all: our customers are counting on us, and we’ll keep delivering for them.

Combating COVID-19 

How can the USO continue to be the Force Behind The Forces® of the five million active duty, Guard, Reserve and family members in the wake of COVID-19 when so much of the tempo of military life has changed?  Our answer, “Change with it.”

PhRMA Member Companies Tackle COVID-19 From All Angles

PhRMA members are working around the clock to research and develop new vaccines and treatments, as well as test existing medicines to help those infected with the virus.

A Shelter from the Storm

Shelter at home means one thing when you have a home. But what does it mean when you have no home, especially when you’re a young person on your own, unsure where to sleep, eat, or find refuge from the pandemic?

That is the question we face at Covenant House, where we help children and youth experiencing homelessness in 31 cities across six countries as COVID-19 loots all our lives relentlessly. 

Today, we are filled with over 2,000 infants, children, and youth who have no other place to call home. Like nearly everywhere else on earth, the virus has hit us and infected some of our kids and staff.  We have converted offices, conference rooms, and drop-in centers into isolation units at each of our houses to care for sick and symptomatic youth. In Anchorage, Alaska, for example, we converted one of our transitional homes into a quarantine residence for young people who test positive or show signs of the virus.  In Houston, we refashioned the drop-in center into isolation bedrooms. In New York City, just outside the Lincoln Tunnel, our executive director Sister Nancy Downing and our team converted their offices into bedrooms, where we now provide care to sick children and youth in one of the hardest-hit parts of the nation.

Today, we are filled with over 2,000 infants, children, and youth who have no other place to call home.

To care for the sick and prevent the spread of infection, Covenant House staff and youth need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – thousands of masks, gloves, face shields and gowns. President and Mrs. Bush quickly donated substantial funds to Covenant House in March to purchase PPEs, which we have distributed across the country to our teams.  We are closely monitoring our pantry and supply stocks, including cleaning supplies, thermometers and linens as we stretch to meet the burgeoning needs of children and youth amid the pandemic. 

I have drawn inspiration repeatedly from former Covenant House youth who now serve on the frontlines among the nation’s many hero helpers. When we first met her in Alaska, April Rayes was a victim of severe child abuse, barely a teenager and pregnant. She went on to raise her son, graduate from high school and college, then medical school. Today Dr. April Rayes works long days, attending to the sick in Washington. I heard from Tawana Ewing, too, who was discovered by an elderly couple in a Walmart parking lot at 11p.m. more than a decade ago, sobbing and cradling her two-month-old infant, without shelter. They brought her to Covenant House New Orleans, where she began to build a new life. Today Tawana has her own home, serves as a member of our Board of Directors and works round-the-clock with the poor at a health center in the Lower Ninth District, caring for COVID-19 patients.

Most young people overcoming homelessness have already suffered enormous trauma before finding Covenant House.  This health crisis is heightening that vulnerability to an unprecedented level. Many of the young people at Covenant House arrive here medically neglected and their bodies bear the scars of life on the streets.  

In New Orleans, 85 percent of our youth have lost their jobs since March 1st, and in New York City, it is closer to 90 percent.

Beyond the adverse health consequences of the virus, its economic and social implications are already wreaking particular havoc on our kids’ lives. Mass school closures are cutting a vital source of nutrition for millions of kids.  Few colleges are committing to continue housing and feeding students who don’t have a place to go, and we are serving thousands more meals each week.  Our young people are seeing their shifts cut and jobs eliminated as the service, hospitality and transportation industries confront reductions in their businesses. In New Orleans, 85 percent of our youth have lost their jobs since March 1st, and in New York City, it is closer to 90 percent.

This virus raged into our lives, armed, pummeling us into our corners. The excruciating flash of obituaries. The sickness, and the fear of it.  The great unknowing. 

We could leave it there.

And yet, the boundless, beautiful, bounty of Love is ever-present and battle-ready.

Love is restocking grocery shelves, rushing the sick to hospitals, building ventilators, helping the ill, mourning the fallen, housing the vulnerable, sewing masks, racing to find a vaccine — generously lifting the shades and turning on the lights. I see this every day across Covenant House: kitchen staff, social workers, nurses, cleaning staff, doctors coming in the front doors to accompany and care for kids during a terrifying time.

Yes, COVID-19 is fiercely testing us, and there are very tough days ahead for all of us, particularly kids confronting homelessness.  But this virus will not undo the world.  It is no match for a people united in hope and devoted to confront it in common cause.

Kevin Ryan is the President & CEO of Covenant House. To learn more about how you can help homeless youth in America during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.covenanthouse.org.