By Alex Bennett
My very first impression of The Cove was that it wasn’t too terribly impressive, judging solely from the exterior. This isn’t entirely unusual for a building in Waco, but it certainly didn’t inspire confidence. The squat reddish-brown brick look didn’t exactly take me aback with wonder and amazement when I had to find a parking spot.
But then I got inside, and The Cove started to look simply wonderful. The front desk area looked nice, and as an intern, Cameron Allsep, gave me a little tour I was impressed at the quality of the goods that had been donated to the organization. Everywhere I looked were high quality couches and chairs, elegant pieces of artwork, beanbag chairs, bookshelves filled with decent books, a large dining table, shelves filled with all sorts of donated foods and clothes, nice computers, and in one room there was even a ping pong table.
Soon enough, I met with the executive director of The Cove, Teri Holtkamp. I chatted with her at length about The Cove, and one of the things that impressed me the most was her focus on long term measurement of organizational effectiveness. She talked about using information from a variety of sources to track where people were situated two or three years down the line after an organization had assisted them.
After talking about The Cove’s mission and values, I found myself getting totally on board with the organization. Their ultimate goal is to end youth homelessness in Waco, and I honestly can’t think of any reason why someone would sincerely not want that to happen. They provide a place for homeless youth to stay from 4-8 p.m, every Monday through Thursday. The Cove provides study opportunities, dinner, and evening programs which change frequently.
And since they have access to a wealth of information, using things like the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and direct communication with youths, they can effectively find any obstacles or conflicts a child might be facing, and take preventative measures to keep it from getting out of hand.
I’m part of a group of students in a public relations programming class dedicated to helping out with the public relations for The Cove through the assignments given by our instructor. Right now I’m eagerly looking forward to working with them.
While I haven’t yet been there when the kids are also there, from my brief chat with Holtkamp and my impromptu tour of the facility, I can easily see why people are excited to see what The Cove is going to accomplish. There’s so much opportunity for growth and achievement, for both The Cove itself and the youth it serves, that I just can’t help but get very excited about what great things can potentially happen.
More information about The Cove can be found here.