These days, the knowledgeable home crowds at Madison Square Garden chant MVP, MVP (Most Valuable Player) when the ball is in Jalen Brunson’s skilled hands.
Every day, Jalen, his family, their Second Round Foundation, the New York Knicks, and the Garden of Dreams Foundation prove how they value the lives and the promise of our young people at Covenant House.
In May 2023, Jalen received the prestigious Beacon of Hope award at the Night of Covenant House Stars gala in recognition of his dedication to the young people at Covenant House in New York City and Pennsylvania, where he’s been involved for four years.
“I am very honored to receive this award,” said Jalen at the time. “Truth is, though, the hope that Covenant House youth come to feel draws from this whole community, and I’m proud to accept this honor on your behalf. And I want to make a promise to the youth who make their way to Covenant House that I’ll stay in this fight as long as I can. No young person should have to experience homelessness.”
Jalen has been living up to that promise of support for our young people ever since and recently made the holidays a time that many of the youth at Covenant House will never forget.
In November, Jalen announced he would support Covenant House youth as the founding member and chair of our new Covenant House Player Ambassador Council.
The new initiative is inclusive of professional sports figures who believe in the mission of Covenant House and help raise awareness and funds for young people facing homelessness and survivors of trafficking.
“Fighting homelessness has been important to me and my family for years,” said Jalen. “When I learned about how many youth are struggling to find shelter, it struck a nerve. I am so thankful to have a platform that will raise awareness and shed light on the need to support youth who are striving to live their best lives. Everyone deserves a warm, safe place to sleep. It is a basic, human right.”
On the same day as the Player Ambassador Council announcement, Jalen rushed from practice over to the Empire State Building, where he lit the iconic building in Covenant House’s signature colors to kick off a powerful night of advocacy that included Sleep Out events at Covenant House sites across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala. Thousands of supporters came together for the first-ever Covenant House Sleep Out in Times Square in New York City as well as at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey led by Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Gillette Stadium in Boston supported by Deatrich Wise, Jr. of the New England Patriots, and at The Wharf in Washington, D.C. supported by former NFL star, Vernon Davis, all of whom are serving as player ambassadors.
On to Thanksgiving! Just one week later, Jalen and his extended family and Tao Group Hospitality hosted a beautiful pre-Thanksgiving dinner with our young people at Covenant House New York. This was not a monetary donation and PR moment. Jalen and his family rolled up their sleeves and joyfully dished out the food to our young people, then stayed to play board games and just hang out in the CovCafe. The love the Brunson family has for each other flowed through the cafeteria and touched the lives of every young person and staff member in the building that night.
Two days before Christmas, Jalen, the Second Round Foundation and Garden of Dreams Foundation stepped up yet again, hosting an incredibly meaningful (and very generous) shopping experience at a local Target for 25 youth at Covenant House. While many of our residents selected gift items for themselves, they also bought gifts for other people in their lives and shared how much it means to them that they can be a part of gift-giving this holiday season. One of our youth bought several rolls of wrapping paper to wrap all of the gifts he bought for others! And, of course, they loved shopping with Jalen.
And this holiday spirit was not just shared at our Covenant House programs in New York. As a Villanova graduate, Jalen and the Second Round Foundation also support our young people at Covenant House Pennsylvania. This year, in partnership with Villanova men’s basketball, they provided gifts for all youth in residence, making the holidays extra special for our young people there.
“The public gets to see Jalen’s amazing talent and heart every time he takes the court,” said Covenant House President & CEO Bill Bedrossian. “At Covenant House, we are honored to see all of the behind-the-scenes efforts of Jalen, his family, and his entire Second Round Foundation team, and the New York Knicks and their amazing Garden of Dreams Foundation. They all reach out with so much heart and with so many ideas for how they can make a difference in the lives of young people experiencing homelessness. With every visit, with every event big and small, this thoughtful and generous team of supporters lifts up the lives and the spirits of our young people.”
In 2024, Jalen, the Second Round Foundation, the New York Knicks, and the Garden of Dreams Foundation will continue to partner with our young people at Covenant House, with Knicks road game watch parties and other events planned. As one of our young people said at Thanksgiving dinner, “What makes this so cool is they don’t have to do this, they don’t have to be here. That means a lot.”
If you’d like to support Jalen and his efforts to give back to the community, join him in raising $40,000 for his “See One Send One” campaign. By joining Jalen and donating any amount for every 3-point field goal he makes, you will be supporting him on the journey to create opportunities that will make a difference in the lives of young people.