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Detroit execs to sleep outside to help the homeless

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A light will shine upon the plight of homeless youth as business leaders from the Motor City and as well as the rest of the country sleep outside in cardboard boxes and sleeping bags on Nov. 20 to feel firsthand what it’s like to be homeless.

Sleep-Out-event-photo-with-logoIt’s part of Sleep Out: Executive Edition.  Aside from just having attention to the issue, these men and women of means in 15 cities from Anchorage to New York will raise funds to help combat homelessness. This is the first time executives in Detroit have participated.

The Detroit event will be hosted by Covenant House Michigan (CHM), which provides food, shelter and job development to thousands of homeless and at-risk youth each year.  Executives will spend their night on the pavement at the CHM grounds.

“There are more than 5,000 young people in Metro Detroit who wander the streets on any given night in search for a warm bed, a hot meal and someone to care for them, so I encourage the business community to join us Nov. 20 to take a stand against youth homelessness,” said Gerry Piro, CHM executive director. “It doesn’t matter whether you are the vice president of a Fortune 500 company or an executive of a local business, you can make a difference by sleeping out for just one night.”

This year’s Sleep Out coincides with the 17th annual Candlelight Vigil Against Homelessness. The vigil, which draws attention specifically to youth homelessness, also takes place at Covenant House Michigan, located at 2959 Martin Luther King Jr, Blvd. in Detroit.  The keynote speaker will be Detroit Deputy Mayor Ike McKinnon.  The candle-lit event begins at 6:00 pm.

A reception and roundtable discussion will kick off the Sleep Out: Executive Edition directly after the vigil ends.  After the more ceremonious parts of the fundraiser, the each executive will be given his or her cardboard box, sleeping bag and a chance to stake a spot of pavement on the CHM’s pavement.  This is, of course, after funds from friends, family, and their respected companies have been raised.

Candlelight Vigil Against Homelessness

Candlelight Vigil Against Homelessness

“Every young person deserves a safe place to sleep and a roof over their head. As a mother of three young adults myself, it’s heartbreaking to know of the homeless youth in our state,” said Sue Snyder, Michigan’s First Lady and honorary chair for the 2014 CHM Sleep Out: Executive Edition. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to support Covenant House Michigan and their first annual sleep out this fall. Together, we can raise awareness for this important cause and help provide Michigan’s homeless youth with the housing, safety and support they need.”

More than $3 million was collected last year by more than 450 business leaders across the United States and Canada as part of Covenant House Sleep Out. For its first year participating in the event, CHM hopes to raise more than $100,000 for the cause.

“I’m thrilled to play a role in this remarkable and very powerful event,” said Jacqueline Wilson, Wayne State University first lady, founder of WSU’s Helping Individuals Go Higher (HIGH) Program and co-chair of 2014 CHM Sleep Out: Executive Edition. “Wayne State’s long-time partnership with Covenant House is a wonderful example of its unwavering commitment to addressing and eradicating homelessness within our community.”

Among those participating in the Sleep Out so far are:

  • Andrea Fischer Newman, senior vice president government affairs, Delta Air Lines
  • Kimberly Mulqueen, partner, Deloitte Consulting
  • Mike Sarafa, president and CEO, Bank of Michigan
  • David Senatore, vice president, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney
  • Sam Slaughter, Sellers Buick GMC and incoming president, Detroit Auto Dealers Association
  • Jason Brown, principal, PublicCity PR
  • Rich Thompson, president, MST Steel,
  • Dan Weingartz, partner and president, Weingartz
  • Michele Hodges, president, Belle Isle Conservancy;
  • Leslie Murphy, president & CEO, Murphy Consulting, Inc.
  • Jacqueline Wilson, Wayne State University’s First Lady
  • Roy Wilson, president, Wayne State University
  • Mike Staff, Mike Staff Productions 

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association is the presenting sponsor of Sleep Out in Michigan.  Delta Air Lines is a top tier sponsor.

For more information about how to participate or sponsor, call 313-463-2004 or visit or

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