“Hi, my name is Stephanie. I have this phone on me 24/7. If you need anything, just call. I’ll be right there”
She repeats this over and over again. For the last 21 years, to thousands and thousands of youth on the streets. This is the motto of Stephanie Taylor’s life. One look in her eye, you know she’s serious.
Stephanie is Covenant House Michigan’s Outreach Manager. Her job description details hitting the streets daily finding homeless and at-risk kids to inform them about Covenant House Michigan and our services. Sometimes she can bring them to the shelter; sometimes it takes a while for them to let her help.
Outreach Manager- the title has a sort of detached, clinical sound to it. It sounds basic. But how do you describe what Stephanie Taylor does? Roving Human Services Unit? Angel on Earth?
The title doesn’t matter, nothing will sum up what she does. She’ll do just about anything for anyone.
Sitting inside a fast food restaurant just because it’s warm and the heat has been turned off in your apartment? She’ll help you get it turned on.
Are you hungry? She’ll take you to get something to eat.
Need medical attention? She’ll make sure you get looked at by a medical professional.
It’s not even just one encounter, if she didn’t gain your trust, she’ll be back. Stephanie will let you know there is some safe loving place for you, without judgment.
If you were to just bump into Stephanie, you’d first note how quick she is to smile, her cheerful spirit, her affability, but there’s no way you’d see the grit and determination that spending 21 years on the streets of Detroit would give.
She’s seen the effects of gang violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, untreated mental illness, and what desperate poverty does to people who have no other choice.
“This is my ministry. This is God’s work using my hands. He put me here for that,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie says the best part of her job is that she can do just about anything to help people.
“A former resident just called me this weekend and said she had three kids now and they were hungry. Instead of calling CPS (Child Protective Services), we go without judgment to help them. It was a Saturday and I wasn’t working but I called over to see if our cafeteria could make up something for her family, some extra canned goods,” she said. “I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help. We’re like a whole village that comes together to love and serve.”
To Stephanie, the worst part is when our shelter is full like we are now. She’ll do anything in her power to get that person to a shelter. But if it’s not ours, it’s hard to know what will happen to them. Most shelters just give you a bed or a chair to sleep in. Covenant House Michigan has a room of their own, social workers, a path to education, employment.
“The only time I don’t get good rest is when I feel like I’m not going to be able to find a good place for a kid when we’re jam-packed,” she said.
Stephanie then listed off all thing things she’s done this week alone. Helped get someone shoes, bring them food, brought people to our shelter, when we’re full, bring them to another shelter. When all the shelters are full, bring them to a shelter outside of Detroit.
“We’re blessed with incredible donors who enable us to serve, I get up every day excited to do my job. These are all God’s children, they may make you mad, but we were told to take care of the poor, so here I am,” she said.
Stephanie is no stranger to the life-altering experience of being given a chance to succeed. As a teen mom in Inkster, she pushed herself through school and working. When she applied to Covenant House Michigan, one of the requirements was a college degree. Stephanie was enrolled in Wayne Community College but didn’t possess a full degree yet. Leadership gave her a chance and told her to stay in school while she worked. Twenty years later, Stephanie now has Master’s degree and Covenant House Michigan is still graced by her tenacity and commitment to our youth.
Our Outreach Team runs seven days a week, eight hours or more a day. The streets of Detroit has this angel, this roving human services unit, our Stephanie, out 40 plus hours a week to love and to serve. She is truly a blessing.