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TWO LOCALS TO LEAD COVENANT HOUSE

People in the news (large)
Today’s Star-Ledger‘s has a page-one story about the selections of Kevin Ryan and Virginia Bauer to top posts at Covenant House, the New York-based charity for homeless youth.

Ryan, a former head of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, is a resident of Fair Haven. He was named international president of Covenant House last week.

Bauer, a former Rumsonite who lives in Red Bank, has headed both the state lottery and commerce departments. She starts as senior vice president this week.

The Sledger’s Bob Braun tagged along as Bauers and Ryan toured the organization’s Newark facility. There, they learned a few things they didn’t know about what it takes to survive the streets, Braun writes.

Like the locations of all-night restaurants that will let you crash for
the night. How to score free food when the shift changes in an eatery.
How to sleep in abandoned buildings without attracting unwanted
attention. How to set a garbage fire to keep warm.

Siedha Sessoms, 19, told Bauers and Ryan about sleeping in train stations and coffee shops.

“Smelling the donuts is almost as good as eating them when you’re cold and hungry,” says Sessoms.

“If you’re there at just the right time, they’ll give you stuff
because they’re only going to throw it away anyway,” she says.

Mandella Jones, also 19, described how to break into abandoned
buildings to find a place to sleep. And how to jump out of windows when
the cops come, so you want to stay on the first floor.

Carlos Ortiz says he spent a lot of time living under highway overpasses.

“When it’s cold, garbage can make a good fire,” says Ortiz, 21, who
says he got off drugs and found a job because of Covenant House.

A year ago, Ryan, 41, left his state job to oversee philanthropic work in Newark and Africa by the foundation
created by multimillionaire and Newark booster Raymond Chambers. A former Covenant House lawyer, he’s the organization’s first lay leader, Braun reports. It was founded in 1968 by a priest and was later run by two nuns.

Bauers left her post as state commerce secretary to take a job with the real estate firm Mack-Cali Realty in mid-2007, a month after being tapped by Gov. Jon Corzine for a spot on the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She continues as a port commissioner.

Ryan and his wife, Claire, have six children.

Bauer, 51, whose first husband was killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. They had three children.

She married former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Donald Steckroth in 2007.

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