Who's Helping Our Homeless Youth?
Forty percent of homeless youth in America identify as LGBT, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community. Even though this statistic personally hits home for me because I myself am Bisexual, The fact that There is even one child who doesn't have a home is what alarms me the most. No one should ever have to live in a world where they don’t have a place to call home, especially our youth. Homelessness affects people in all different walks of life. In America, the number of youth that will experience homelessness each year is a staggering 1.7 million. The problem of youth homelessness is a problem that is a critical issue in today's world. However, there are organizations in our area, such as Stand Up For Kids, that work to solve the problem of youth homelessness by reaching out to homeless youth and offering them a way to get themselves out of their predicament by offering them shelter, food, medical services and counseling to get them off the streets and provide them an opportunity to get on their feet again.
What is Stand Up For Kids?
Stand Up for Kids is a nationally recognized nonprofit that aims to end the cycle of youth homelessness across the country. In 1990, a selfless group of volunteers started the first branch of Stand Up for Kids in San Diego, California. “ We aim to end the cycle of youth homelessness,” Stand Up for Kids. That Quote is this organization's mission statement and they turn this mission statement into action every day in order to inch closer to their goal. Stand Up for Kids uses many different tools to achieve this goal. Failing foster systems, domestic violence, families not accepting a child's sexual orientation, sexual abuse and poverty are the top reasons why our youth are being impacted by homelessness. “Every day, 13 at-risk youth will die due to assault, illness, or suicide trying to survive on the streets – that’s approximately 5,000 per year,” Stand Up For Kids. This number could be drastically higher if it weren't for this organization and ones like it.
How do they help?
There are many ways in which Stand Up For Kids aides homeless youth but street outreach is the main one. “Volunteers in nearly every city we operate walk the streets in known “hotspots” and other areas where youth congregate, in order to distribute food, clothing, hygiene products, resource information, and referrals,” Stand Up For Kids. Street outreach is one of the ways this organization combats youth homelessness. Volunteers will go to known areas where youth gather in order offer their assistance. This can be just to give out food, clothing and hygiene products or to rescue them off the streets. This all depends on the amount of help youth are willing to accept. Sometimes, homeless youth will come in contact with a volunteer multiple times before they are willing to go to a shelter or receive help in any amount. “Our volunteers make it a point to be accessible at consistent times each week in order to build relationships with homeless youth and help ensure they get connected to other programs we provide, as well as important community resources that we trust,” Stand Up For Kids. If a person isn’t ready to receive help, they make it clear how to seek it when they are ready.
What else do they do?
In addition to street outreach, Stand Up For Kids offers mentoring services to homeless youth. These kids are obviously going through a rough time and like us, need someone to support them. However, a lot of the time homeless youth have no one to turn to. That’s when Stand Up For Kids steps in. “Youth are paired with two mentors who meet with them on a weekly basis. During mentoring sessions, youth develop a goal plan and mentors help them prioritize and execute their plan. Mentors act as guides, role models, and accountability partners for these youth,” Stand Up For Kids. These mentors serve a clear purpose in ending the cycle of youth homelessness. Mentors aren’t just there to offer advice. They assist youth with matters that I personally have never thought of. “Our program not only provides basic necessities such as food, clothing, and toiletries but also engages mentors to assist with educational support, resume and interview preparation, obtaining birth certificates and developing life skills,” Stand Up For Kids. These selfless mentors support homeless youth in a wide variety of ways from simply being the person they confide into helping them develop a plan for the future.
How Can I help?
The issue of youth homelessness is a dire problem that must be addressed in our society. “Youth homelessness will only end when everyone rolls up their sleeves and harvests their contributions,” Stand Up For Kids. The problem of youth homelessness is not one that will be solved on its own or by an or by one organization; It is going to take support from every single one of us. Whether that's making a donation to organizations such as Stand up for kids or donating your time by volunteering, all of it helps. We as a community, as a country need to do everything we can to end the cycle of youth homelessness. If we can solve this problem then all of our communities will see an improvement.