The below memoriam is written by our Chief Program Officer, Heidi Huppert. We love our youth, like our own.
In our little chapel with its glass walls, we have held far too many memorial services for the young people we have lost.
With the services we pull together with our Pastoral Minister and a smattering of staff that knew the young person best, we manage to hold the most beautiful and thoughtful remembrances. May 24, 2021 was no exception. We honored a beloved young woman, Dani Meadows. It’s always surprising to me whom these young people touch and for Dani, there were many in attendance, from the guy in the data department to friends from the programs she stayed at when she lived with us. Dani was so loved.
The stories shared about her had the attendants crying and laughing, sometimes at the same time. Personally, I’ve not felt such deep sorrow and jubilation simultaneously. In some ways I felt so lucky to have gotten to know Dani which makes her loss so much more profound.
In celebrating Dani were learned about a young woman with a deep love of her family, friends, pets and an ambition to make something of herself. Years ago, Dani told me, “No one expects anything of me. Back in Alabama I was just supposed to sit in a hot trailer and collect disability.” Like many of the other staff at Covenant House, I responded, “well, you proved them wrong, didn’t you?” She truly did.
Dani came to Alaska with little more than some loose internet connections. Soon she found herself in our Youth Engagement Center, experiencing homelessness for the first time in her life. Very quickly Dani was accepted into the Rights of Passage Program where she thrived. For the first time in her life, she found employment and started saving money. She wanted to get a driver’s license, so she put herself through Driver’s Education. She bought a car. She fell in love. She made friends. While Dani’s past pained her, she refused to let it hold her back. She got off of disability because she said, “I can pay my own way.” Dani got an apartment and became a regular daily call to check on the staff she referred to as her “moms.”
Dani was magical. We joked that she might have been a unicorn. Dani loved Alabama football, so we decorated in deep reds. She loved cupcakes and Dr. Pepper so we all popped our cans in honor of her. I won’t be able to forget our young lady with the strong southern accent that loved so hard it sometimes hurt. I won’t forget how brave she was in allowing herself to be vulnerable when faced with rejection. Our unicorn taught us a lot. Roll Tide, RIP Dani