Local activist to raise funds, awareness for homeless teens with ‘sleep out’ event
Known locally to demonstrate and fight for animal rights, Kim Strong is now taking on the cause of raising funds and awareness for homeless teens.
Back in 2013, the animal activist rustled up an initial 200 members to form Lainey’s Army. The group is named for a 4-year-old Austrian Shepherd mix that had been left chained outdoors, with no food or water, at a Camden residence between April and May 2013. Lainey was eventually rescued, but died shortly after.
In 2015, Strong took a 114-mile trek to Albany wearing a 70-pound dog chain to go speak with legislators on Humane Lobby Day Tuesday, garnering support from three local legislators who co-signed bills fighting for animal rights.
Today, Strong is leading a different kind of awareness effort — this time for Covenant House International — and is participating in the National Sleep Out America event. Strong will participate in the event on Friday, Nov. 16 and will be sleeping out on Broad Street in Utica, near the Route 5-S intersection.
Strong said she wanted to raise an awareness for the nearly 4.2 million kids in America who have and will face homelessness this year.
“I can’t stay indoors while so many kids remain outside,” Strong said. “So on Nov. 16, I’m giving up my bed to spend a night sleeping out on the street for the National Sleep Out America event. As part of my Sleep Out, I’m raising funds and awareness for Covenant House, an organization that shelters and cares for kids facing homelessness and hunger.”
Strong is looking for the community’s support to help in her efforts. To donate toward her Sleep Out, donations may be sent to www.sleepoutamerica.org. By typing “Kim Strong” in the search bar, donors can find Strong’s page and donate directly there.
The activist will also collect donations during her Sleep Out, and may bring one of her canine buddies along — her husky or shepherd. Others are also invited to take part in the effort with her and may sign up to collect their own pledges, she said.
“When I was in second grade I met the man who founded Covenant House and he changed my life,” Strong said. “One day the Sleep Out event popped up on my Facebook news feed and I said, ‘Now is my time to help people too.’”
For 30 days, Strong said she previously went through a period having to live in her car and can’t fathom a child with no resources — no food or clean, dry clothes — having to survive the streets.
Being homeless “It was tough and I can’t imagine being a child, having to make choices or decisions, facing drug or alcohol addiction, or abuse, without having someone saying, “Hey, we’ve got you,’” she said.
To date, Strong will join 4,521 individuals who are taking part in Sleep Out America nation-wide.
“This year, 4.2 million young people will find themselves without a safe, stable place to sleep,” according to the Covenant House website. “They may be escaping years of physical abuse, a dangerous human trafficking network, a drug-addicted parent, or a house overflowing with rage. More than 5,000 of these kids will lose their lives to the streets. Sleep Out America sends a powerful message to these young people that they are not alone or forgotten.”
Covenant House is the largest privately-funded charity in the Americas providing loving care and vital services to youth facing homelessness.
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