Former CHMO youth thankful for his time here, wants to give back
Nicholas became homeless during his senior year of high school. He stayed in school and graduated, but after about a year of sleeping in unsafe environments, he was desperate for stability.
He Googled “teen shelters,” and the first to pop up was Covenant House Missouri. Nicholas called and talked to one of our case managers. “She said to come on in, and I literally cried the whole way here,” he says.
Now, six years later, Nicholas (age 24) owns a company focused on sales and marketing and is looking forward to marrying his fiancée and buying a home. They have a 3-year-old son, and he has custody of his 15-year-old sister.
Nicholas thrived in the safe, stable environment at Covenant House Missouri. “I was able to relax,” he says. “Before, I was always looking over my shoulder. I slept so well here.”
He actually started his company, Right Connections, while living at Covenant House. Nicholas also purchased his own car while here and opened a savings account. “I basically worked and slept while I was here,” Nicholas says. “Sometimes I went to the gym to play basketball. The staff treated us like family – not like I was homeless.”
One particular overnight case manager, who was studying for his master’s degree at the time, encouraged and pushed Nicholas. He even looked to Nicholas for business advice.
Nicholas says he found Covenant House Missouri almost too good to be true. It was completely different from his prior idea of a shelter. He was here nearly two years, and then it just felt like the right time to leave.
“When I came here, it opened my eyes to what homelessness was,” Nicholas says. “When I heard these stories, I felt like I was taking a bed from someone who needed it more than I did.” That’s when he decided it was time to leave Covenant House and move out on his own. He stayed for a while in one of his company’s properties.
He has kept in touch with one friend from his time here. “He’s like a brother to me.”
Nicholas still has a green chair that has traveled with him on this journey. It was one of his few possessions when he was without a home, and he says it has provided a great deal of motivation along the way.
Nicholas has advice for youth who find themselves experiencing homelessness, as he once did: “Take advantage of everything Covenant House Missouri has to offer.”
He is also looking to give back. He does a lot of volunteer work and instills the value of community service in his family members, and he plans to work with youth at Covenant House. “I know when I was homeless, there were a lot of people who helped me,” Nicholas says. “I think I’m relatable, and I want to help others.”