LOS ANGELES – Waking up in the middle of a parking lot is an uneasy feeling, especially when it’s your first time 

The first thing that comes to Jay Roewe’s mind? Perspective. 

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“I remember going to sleep last night and wondering, 'Can you imagine doing this day after day after day?' And that part I just can’t imagine,” said Roewe.

This is the reality for over 6,000 homeless youth in the City of Los Angeles. So spending one night in a parking lot is worth it to him to help raise money and awareness.

His journey started the night before when he showed up to Covenant House, a center for homeless youth for their 8th annual “Sleep Out.” 

He was already aware of Covenant House because of the partnership HBO has had with it for 15 years for their in-house digital film program. “Digital Dove.” But this would be his first time participating in the sleep out. 

“I’m really wondering how cold it’s going to get out there tonight. So I’ve dressed really warmly, but I have too many clothes on right now,” said Roewe. 

Later in the evening, he got an opportunity to sit and hear testimonies from Covenant House alumni.

Like The story of Derrick Cooney, who came to youth shelter after living on skid row at the age of 17.

It was an eye-opening experience for Roewe who said, “To be here and to be this close to it and for it to touch you, you can’t help to be moved.” 

Cooney said that even though sleeping in a parking lot doesn’t come close to the life he lived, he appreciates people like Roewe for even getting a dose of his experience.

“You know the people that don’t even know what’s going on, they can see how we live life down here in any shelter. I think they can see the struggle,” said Cooney. 

As Roewe settled in for the night, stories like Cooney’s and many others sit at the top of his mind.

“The idea of sleeping here and what I’ve heard tonight really does make you think about what can I do. We have to do something about this. In this society, in this world, at this point in time and place, what’s the reason what’s the excuse to let this happen,” said Roewe.  

It was on his mind even more so when he woke up from spending the night in a sleeping bag in the open air.

“It’s something I’d never thought I’d ever do and I will never forget it,” said Roewe.

For Covenant House, this ultimately is the goal they were hoping to reach.