Homeless Youths See Dreams On A Broadway Stage | New York | New York Times
Behind Ms. Jenkins stood fellow actors who portray street-tough newsboys in the Broadway show. In front of her stood a cast of young people, most of them teenagers, who live at the nearby Covenant House, a shelter, and who had been in the audience.
“I was this little black girl growing up in Brooklyn dreaming about singing on a world stage,” Ms. Jenkins said. “I was lucky enough to have parents who helped nurture that dream.”
Ms. Jenkins then turned to the 10 audience members from Covenant House, who are among the 300 people who sleep at the shelter, just two blocks from the theater.
“All of you have so much adversity in your lives and yet I hear you talk about your dreams,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “You are my heroes.”
In “Newsies,” where singing and dancing newsboys — many of them homeless — organize a successful strike against greedy media titans, Ms. Jenkins plays Medda Larkin, a burlesque queen who helps protect and shelter them.
In real life, Ms. Jenkins helps protect and shelter the residents of Covenant House, a charity for homeless and runaway youths. Since 2003, Ms. Jenkins, with assistance from other Broadway stars, has raised nearly $10 million for the charity through concert performances and other benefits.
She has been on its board for three years and is a regular at Covenant House events and a frequent visitor to the residents.
“She has really helped us keep our doors open,” Kevin Ryan, the president of Covenant House, said. “For years, she has been the same maternal figure for street kids that she now plays in the theater — hers is truly a case of art imitating life.”