Tia's Story

Tia thrives at Covenant House, reaches for her dreams at Maryville University

When Tia stepped through the doors of Covenant House Missouri (CHMO) two years ago, she didn’t say much. But she had a big dream, and she has never stopped working toward her goals. This January, she took a huge leap forward when she enrolled at Maryville University and moved on campus.

Tia dreams of a career in gene therapy. She always planned on attending college, and virtually as soon as she moved into CHMO, she enrolled at St. Louis Community College. It was the love and support she received within the walls of CHMO that carried her through four semesters at community college, and then through a stressful application process to four-year universities.

“I had resources at Covenant House, which was not something I had before,” Tia says. During her two years here, CHMO provided food, clothing, and a warm bed. However, the services Tia received went far beyond those essentials. She had 24-hour support from case managers, and she worked regularly with an art therapist. Tia also took advantage of CHMO’s employment program, working with the neighborhood beautification team and receiving a paycheck.

“When Tia moved into her residence hall, she became one huge step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a gene therapist,” says Jessica Erfling, CHMO chief executive officer. “At Covenant House, we fulfilled our mission of empowering youth to chase their dreams by providing unconditional love, absolute respect, and holistic support. We are so proud of Tia!”

She will continue to receive assistance from CHMO, despite moving out on her own.

But she is completely immersing herself in college life – living in a residence hall, taking 17 credit hours, and hoping to become involved in campus groups. She is particularly interested in joining a diversity organization.

It’s thanks not only to the support she received here at CHMO, but also a very generous donor, that Tia has been able to take this leap. The kind contributor is paying the balance of Tia’s tuition, after her grants and scholarships, plus room and board.

Our donors are absolutely vital in our youth’s journey from homelessness to hope, allowing CHMO to provide the best support for our youth – and allowing youth like Tia to reach for the stars.

Tia says as long as youth are open to receiving help, they’ll find it at CHMO. She fully embraced our program, and it has lifted her closer to her dreams.

Katie Stalter