November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, a time to recognize the ongoing crisis of an estimated 4.2 million youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in the United States each year.
For more than three decades, StandUp for Kids has been committed to ending the cycle of youth homelessness in 20 locations nationwide, giving at-risk youth a sense of safety, hope and belonging.
This GivingTuesday, November 30, and throughout the holiday season, please StandUp and give! Any donation counts. A $50 donation can provide a week’s worth of groceries for one youth; $500 provides 30 nights of shelter. Stand with us on GivingTuesday, the biggest giving day of the year, and contribute at www.standupforkids.org/donate.
“As a volunteer-driven organization, we work tirelessly to assess and help youth in need. Even in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, we had 9,914 street and outreach center touchpoints nationwide, and over 2,300 kids in our mentoring programs. We work not just with minors, but with youth up to the age of 25, as we recognize that there are few developmentally appropriate services to serve young people after 18 in the adult homeless system,” said Maria Verastegui, StandUp for Kids’ Acting Board Chairwoman.
Continues Ms. Verastegui: “We celebrate differences, embracing all youth regardless of race, ethnicity, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, political affiliation or disability. Our services evolve based on youth feedback − to ensure we are providing what’s most important to them, what will best help them to identify and reach life goals they may not have thought possible when they thought no one cared. Their stories are what motivate us to keep going, to keep reaching more kids.” For example:
Shylesia, a young mother staying in a shelter with a program for women and children, is one of the thousands of at-risk youth the non-profit organization has helped. “I met StandUp for Kids during their street outreach. I talked to the counselors because I thought they could help me, and they did. They helped me to contact an organization that can help with my social security. They helped me get my birth certificate and are helping me find housing. They are so sweet and provide me with clothing and food. Best of all, they help me make better decisions.”
She continued, “I am trying to improve my life. My daughter is in daycare. I’m looking for a job. I have my GED. I want to go to school to become a physical therapist. I want safe and affordable housing for me and my daughter. I want my daughter to have a better life than me. I don’t want her to go through the same things I’ve been through.”
So is Isaac, age 20: “At the age of 17 I left home, looking for a better life than living with my mother and stepfather, who abused me verbally and physically…a friend suggested I go with him to StandUp for Kids’ Outreach Center. There I met volunteer counselors who gave me a warm meal, clothes, an opportunity to see a nurse, and take a shower. They also listened to my situation and gave me a referral to a program they knew provided housing for gay youth. Now, I have a place to live, and I am also involved in an internship applicable to my major. StandUp for Kids reminds me that I am a good young man with lots of potential. They listen to me, encourage me to do well in school, and help me resolve various issues that come up in my life.”
“Your generosity shows unaccompanied homeless and at-risk youth like Shylesia and Isaac that they have not been forgotten, and that the “Purple People,” as StandUp for Kids’ outreach teams − recognized by their signature purple shirts − are known, will help them move from surviving to thriving,” concluded Ms. Verastegui.
About StandUp for Kids:
At StandUp for Kids, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, our mission is to help end the cycle of youth homelessness in cities across America, one youth at a time. Since 1990, we have cared for homeless and at-risk youth ages 12-24 by transitioning them from crisis to connection. We give our youth a sense of safety, hope, and belonging through housing support, mentoring, drop-in centers, and street outreach.
StandUp For Kids has chapters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia, and Washington. More details can be found at standupforkids.org/where-we-are. To learn more, please visit standupforkids.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
SOURCE StandUp for Kids