NEW YORK -- The ringtone of Brian Cashman’s cell phone filled the air repeatedly on Thursday evening, the Yankees general manager fielding trade and free-agent business even as he prepared to spend a windy and wet evening in a sleeping bag.
Then Cashman snapped to attention as he heard a series of loud booms -- were they thundercracks, or just tractor-trailers rumbling over 10th Avenue? Both are part of braving the elements on a New York City sidewalk, and for the 11th consecutive year, Cashman spent a night outdoors in solidarity with homeless youth.
“We were all born into better situations than these kids were,” Cashman said. “We can count on having a roof over our heads automatically. We can count on three square meals a day automatically. You walk around this city, the greatest city in the country and maybe the world, and you walk past way too many people who are homeless. It’s a problem that needs to be dealt with.”
Cashman is a board member of Covenant House, which held its Sleep Out for homeless youth at 17 locations on Thursday. Cashman said that he was introduced to the charity by Kevin Ryan, a college classmate who is now the president and CEO of Covenant House International.
“He gave me a tour, showed me a couple of things that they were doing with the kids, and that was the hook,” Cashman said. “It was a really smart play by him, because with me came the Yankees -- allowing the Yankees brand to hook up with Covenant House and shine a light on all the good work they’re doing.”
Taking part in the event at Covenant House’s remodeled Manhattan facility, Cashman proudly gestured at a rooftop, noting that it was built over an old alleyway that the GM slept on in previous years. The fundraising efforts, he said, must be helping.
“It is only through nights of advocacy like this that we can not only keep our doors open 24/7, but to grow to meet the increasing need for services,” Ryan said. “In the past 12 months, in the midst of a pandemic, we have opened eight new programs and 138 additional beds. But there is so much need.”
More than 2,500 executives and leaders participated in similar events across the United States and Canada on Thursday, according to Covenant House. Funds raised by Covenant House New York will be utilized to provide youth with stable housing, employment or education assistance.
“They’ve had a lot of success stories,” Cashman said. “Unfortunately, it’s not all success, but the ones that do have success -- it changes their lives. It puts them on the road to getting a job, ultimately having a family and living an important, happy life that they work hard for and can be proud about.”