NBC's Red Nose Day: An Inside Look at Covenant House

You've probably seen the red noses at your local Walgreen's drug store, but you might not realize how they're impacting children's lives here and around the world.

The goal is to eliminate child poverty, and the charity Comic Relief has raised more than 100 million dollars since launching Red Nose Day here in the U.S. in 2015. One of their grant recipients is Covenant House, a shelter for young people ages 18 to 24.

Anthony Solis and Derrick Cooley took us inside Covenant House -- a place of refuge for young people who've fallen victim to homelessness and trafficking.

"I didn't have anywhere to go," recalls Solis, a Covenant House graduate. "I didn't have no shoes on my feet, no clothes. I was directly from the street."

Solis ran away from home at 14, no longer able to tolerate abuse, from the pots and pans against his head to the showers outside with a water hose. But he quickly realized he'd traded one hell for another.

"Right when I arrived in downtown, I was mugged and beaten the first night I was there," Solis said. 

After 3 harsh years living on the streets, he found his way to Covenant House. As he walked the ground with us, he pointed out the places that helped him rebuild his life.

"This area was one of the most important areas for me. It was to get counselling and it helped me to forgive myself, to be able to release the beauty in myself."

Amanda Sattler is in charge of development and communications for Covenant House.

"Half of our young people age out of foster care, and the other half are usually running away from really abusive situations," Sattler explained. "So tragically the streets are a safer, better option for them than where they were coming from."

Covenant house offers the stability and support these young people need to get their lives on track. From shelter, clothing and meals to medical services and career counselling, they learn critical life skills here that will enable them to live and succeed on their own.

"92 percent of young people exit our programs and live independently, permanently," Sattler said. "So we know that it works. And we know if you intervene at this age group you can truly cut off the cycle of chronic homelessness." 

And that goal fits perfectly with what Comic Relief and Red Nose Day are working toward.

"Our mission is to end child poverty,” saidComic Relief CEO Janet Scardino.  "So we are very pointed in focusing on the most disadvantage children, those leading the toughest lives and really supplying what they need to keep them healthy, educated and safe."

It’s been life changing for Derrick Cooney. 

"They teach me how to be on my own, get my own apartment, pay my bills," he said. "And move on with my life."

Cooney spent much of his childhood in the shelters of Skid Row. But in his early 20s he found Covenant House. 

"They helped me believe in myself. And believe that I’m someone. So now any challenge ahead of me, I feel like I can ace it."

"We thank everyone for going to Walgreens and buying your nose,” Sattler said. "And know you're helping amazing young people like Antony and Derrick when you do."

Click here for more information on NBC's Red Nose Day.

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