The Dreams Gala brought together celebrities and philanthropists to raise funds for the Covenant House of California, an organization that provides housing, medical services, job services, food, extracurricular events and more to over 80,000 homeless youth annually.
Oprah Winfrey renovated several rooms at the Los Angeles shelter in late 2017. The organization has differentiated itself from other celebrity backed nonprofit organizations by its strict requirements.
It does not allow one-off involvement and requires that volunteers, celebrity or otherwise, go through training and make a substantial commitment of time to the organization. As a result, the fundraising events they hold possess an atmosphere that I have yet to find anywhere else in the Los Angeles philanthropic scene.
Kearran Giovanni, who plays Detective Amy Sykes, on TNT’s Major Crimes, attended the event with several of her other cast mates including Ransford Doherty, Rene Rosado, and Graham Patrick Martin.
When Giovanni was asked why she and her cast mates have maintained such a longstanding relationship with the Covenant House as opposed to other organizations that battle homelessness she explained that the show creator James Duff was once a homeless youth.
Furthermore, “I think this gap that the covenant house fills is where we need to start because if we start there (with youth) we can help the future. There’s so many (homeless people) that have gone a little bit beyond where we can pull it (cyclical homelessness) back, but I feel like this is the age where that’s possible, and we can give them that career and that faith that anything is possible,” states Giovanni.
When Giovanni was asked about how homeless youth can and do overcome the obstacles of their situations and persevere. She replied, “what I think makes the difference is therapy. If you A, surround yourself with other people that are like minded and moving in the same direction, and you B, have the facility of having a therapist to teach you, guide you, and put you in an environment where you can thrive and grow and gives you those tools. You will always take away something, you will always have that scar with you, but living with it and being debilitated by it are two different things.”
“Trauma stunts your growth, your processing, and how you create your own identity, and it’s like your life is not playing by your rules,” stated Ransford Doherty, who plays Kendall on Major Crimes while also working as a special education instructor. “You have this idea of how do you make it, survive each and every day.”
Doherty’s cast mate, Rene Rosado, who plays Gus Wallace on the show, said that he became involved with the Covenant House after running social media initiated clothing drives to benefit homeless people living on Skid Row.
Rosado quoted his friend, “Nobody wants to push the train, but they want to be in it.” “You got to push the train first and allow people to come on in for the ride,” stated Rosado.
“Everyone wants to help they just don’t know how to do it. It’s more about just giving them a place to just say, you know, I’m doing this does anyone want to be involved and everyone will jump in. It’s just giving them an opportunity to be involved with something.”
“There’s a big problem out there on Skid Row and want to be a part of just…I don’t know…I just get emotional, but yeah, it kills me out there,” states Rosado who had an appointment the next day to give out more clothes and supplies to people. He states that homeless individuals become and remain homeless for a variety of reasons including a couple bad circumstances, mental health, and unsafe living situations,” said Rosado.
While Covenant House focuses on homeless youth and sex trafficking Rosado, “hopes there are other programs out there that are helping the non-youth homeless people out there.”