Daily Point of Light # 2380 Mar 19, 2003

Stand Up For Kids is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1990 that is based in San Diego, CA, with programs in more than 16 states. It is an all-volunteer outreach program that nonjudgmentally helps homeless and street youth 21 and under by providing them friendship and nonperishable foods, hygiene products and outdoor gear to make their life on the streets a little easier. It comes into a community when there are volunteers to support it. Funding is generated 100 per cent through community donations.

StandUp for Kids Oceanside began summer of 2001 with 2 volunteers. Today there are more than 30. In January 2003 the group began subleasing 600 square feet of space in a downtown building, leased by Lifeline of North County. This is called the Educational Resource Center, developed to provide a place to help the kids take the steps to get into productive roles in society. There, three nights a week, the volunteer outreach counselors load their backpacks with donated food, hygiene supplies and clothing; they walk and look for street kids who need them. The kids on the street know they can count on these volunteers to be there at the same general time each week. With more volunteers this can happen every night of the week, and also extend to other parts of the City and North County.

While counselors walk the streets, other counselors work the Center, offering youth a place to come for a few hours to get out of the elements, freshen up, eat warm food, and talk with new and old friends. The kids are expected to do a chore in appreciation, and clean up after themselves. Professionals are being invited to work in the Center, counseling the youth. Staff meetings, community orientations and trainings are also held there. There is a living room with games, VCR, books and a guitar; a kitchen and computer room are also available. At the end of each month, a birthday party is held; volunteers bring their spouses and children, and everyone sings happy birthday to those who has had their birthday during the month. It gives the Kids a chance to think of family members who have had birthdays during the month. A community volunteer bakes the homemade cakes.

At the end of each visit, kids return to the streets to sleep. Housing children under 18 is difficult in our society for many reasons. It is a sadness that volunteers have to bear.

Volunteer counselors must be at least 16 years old and go through several weeks of training before hitting the streets or working the Center. High school and college students are encouraged to apply. All volunteers must be fingerprinted and background-checked.

StandUp for Kids has a strong relationship with the police and the dozens of nonprofit agencies who exist to serve indigent people. It is especially challenging to find services for youth under 18, however. Survival is difficult on the streets and, although people see homeless men and women every day, it is not well known there are nearly one and one half million children living on the streets of the United States. Statistics reveal that 13 die each day from disease, assault or suicide. Prospective volunteers of North County should call 760-439-2112, or email [email protected] . Those living outside the area should check for your nearest program, or to start one of your own.

“The mission of STANDUP FOR KIDS is to help homeless and street kids. This mission shall be carried out by a national volunteer force whose on-the-streets outreach efforts will find, stabilize and assist homeless and street kids in their efforts to improve their lives. The organization’s mission shall also be furthered through deterrence and resource programs provided in schools and via the Internet. All facets of this mission shall be guided by the mandate that our volunteers shall tell kids they care about them and then, at every turn, prove it.”