At Covenant House, a diverse group of volunteers support our young people in many ways. From hosting culinary classes to yoga sessions and creative writing workshops, they help youth ignite their potential by exploring new interests.

We’d like you to meet Marylyn Peringer, a high school English and history teacher, who has also been a professional storyteller for over 40 years.

Her connection with Covenant House began when she was a monthly donor: “After being a donor for several years, I decided to apply to become a volunteer. My heart went out to the homeless youth I saw on the streets, because they reminded me of my own children,” Marylyn explains.

Combining her gift for storytelling and passion for the cause, Marylyn saw volunteering as a great opportunity to give back in a meaningful way. Since then, she has shared stories with youth every week for over five years.

To Marylyn, storytelling is important because it helps the youth build a sense of connection and purpose: “Folk tales, in particular, stress the value of having goals and being faithful to them, showing compassion to others, knowing when to ask for help and refusing to be intimidated by fear.”

She also describes the direct connection between herself and the listeners as an act of love.

I offer them something good and don't expect anything back. However, I get it anyway, in their attention and often in their responses.

One special moment stands out in Marylyn’s memory. During an afternoon volunteer session, she shared a folk tale about animals playing music, and one youth explained how much it reminded him of a story his mother, who lives in his native country Nigeria, had told him: “He told the story to everyone, then he stopped. ‘There's a song my mother always sang at this part of the story,’ he said, then called his mother on the spot and asked her to sing the song to everyone over the phone. And we all sat down and listened while she sang to us.”

Moments like these remind Marylyn why she enjoys storytelling: stories from the heart give young people a welcoming space to express themselves and connect with others.

Thank you to Marylyn and all of our volunteers for contributing 7,610 hours to Covenant House throughout the last year. Your hard work and dedication is truly appreciated!