Covenant House Sleep-Outs Show What Life Is Like for Homeless, Runaway Youth

Covenant House's "sleep-outs" show what life is like for homeless youth.

Both of her parents died before she was 14, and her teen years were spent in foster care.

“I realized when I first got to my foster mother's home she wasn't accepting,” said Nigeria, who asked that ABC News not use her last name.

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Nigeria is gay, and she said she used to “dress like a tomboy.” It wasn't okay with her foster mother, who told her “don’t dress like that. ... Either change your clothes or leave,” Nigeria recalled.

Nigeria was soon on the streets, and, for two years, she slept on friends’ couches and even in subway cars.

But two months ago, everything changed for her. She found Covenant House -- a nonprofit organization that helps homeless and runaway youths get off the streets.

Covenant House provided Nigeria with a room, and it’s helping her fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse’s aide. Her training starts next week.

She looks forward to being able to help people, much in the same way others have helped her.

“I love people, that’s who I am,” she said, laughing.

Every year, Covenant Houses across the nation rescue thousands of young people like Nigeria.

The organization took its outreach to a different level when it challenged ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez and an estimated 70 employees of Lenox Advisors to a "sleep-out," where they spent the entire night outside to give them insight into the experience of so many homeless and runaway youths.

Benitez spent the windy, wet night in a sleeping bag and cardboard box.

"It was cold, it was noisy, but it was so eye opening," Benitez said on "Good Morning America" of spending the night outside, which raised $125,000 overnight for Covenant House.

Kevin Ryan, the president of Covenant House, said the sleep-outs raise awareness and millions of dollars to help the organization’s work.

"Experiencing homelessness is a very humbling experience and is something everyone should go to see what these kids go through on a nightly basis," Rick Van Benschote, managing partner of Lenox Advisors, said on "GMA." "The Covenant House is an amazing place where kids come in from broken homes and gives them shelter, job support and hope that they can make a difference and get their lives back on track. The goal is to raise awareness and do more corporate sleep-outs."

As for Nigeria, she graduates her training program today and is starting her career as a nurse's aide.

"I am super excited to graduate today. It's like my dream job, so just for me to have that step in the door and be able to start my career -- I’m ecstatic," she said on "GMA." "It just gives me hope to know that people will take time out of their day even though they don’t have to be here just to raise awareness for us youth that don't have the things people usually have. I’m just grateful for that."