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StandUp For Kids - Washington, D.C. hosted its very first flash mob fundraiser last month with help from local a capella group Word of Mouth. We collected about $50 in donations and passed out more than 100 flyers displaying ways to get involved with SUFK-DC. Despite the triple-digit temperatures, we had plenty of audience participation and members of Word of Mouth donned purple StandUp For Kids t-shirts and wristbands to bring awareness to our group while they belted out popular tunes like Fun's "Some Nights" and a Michael Jackson medley. The event entertained passersby in the Columbia Heights neighborhood; showcased burgeoning local musicians; and brought visibility and donations to our local chapter.
Student Brings Family & Community Together through Food Donations
At 10 years old -- and just a few days shy of her eleventh birthday -- Sophie Horst already knows the definition of community service. A District of Columbia resident and a student at Sidwell Friends School, Sophie recently put together 50 snack packs (totaling about $300) for the local StandUp For Kids chapter.
After hearing about StandUp For Kids-DC through a co-worker at the National Democratic Institute, Sophie's mother, Marjan Ehsassi, thought this might be a good cause for her daughter to learn more about. Sophie took the time to speak with Lindsay Robinson, executive director of the D.C. chapter, and she quickly learned just how serious the problem of youth homelessness is right in her own city.
So naturally when it came time for the fifth grade "Quaker Quest", a learning experience in which each student must complete a task that tends to focus on community service, Sophie thought a SUFK-DC donation drive would be a worthwhile endeavor.
"I used to live in a nice neighborhood, but when I would walk up to Safeway or Starbucks, I would see people that didn't seem like they had a home. It made me really sad, said Sophie. "I felt like it would be a good thing to help people, not only in the U.S., but people in D.C. I think it is important to start with where you live."
To raise awareness for the group, Sophie plastered the school hallways with posters displaying the StandUp For Kids mission, along with the organization's website and statistics taken from the recent "48 Hours" campaign. After not only raising cash donations and non-perishables in the school's food drive, Sophie and her family went above and beyond, visiting the local grocery store and purchasing enough canned pasta, popcorn and other food items to fill 50 snack packs. She even topped them off with a sweet treat.
"I put in a little ball of chocolate because I thought that would be nice," said Sophie.
And good will must run in the family, because even Sophie's siblings got in on the task. Sophie and her brother Cyrus sat with their mother to put together the individual meals, then hand-delivered them to SUFK-DC.
So while other kids her age may be focused on book reports and other pressing projects, Sophie Horst is also focusing on helping other young people -- hoping to make a difference in the lives of the nearly 3,000 homeless and at-risk youth in Washington, D.C.
On Sunday December 16th, 2011, 700 homeless and underprivileged children in the greater Washington, D.C. area came together for Holiday for Hope, a festive holiday event principally organized by Dreams For Kids, a non-profit organization that works in empowering youth who live in poverty and with disabilities.
For the second year, the StandUp For Kids - DC chapter decorated cookies and made holiday cards with the kids. Together, volunteers and kids created cookie masterpieces using 300 cookies, 5 pints of frosting, and enough colorful sprinkles to bury an elf.
Held at that Blackburn Center of Howard University, Holiday for Hope featured activities and entertainment that included arts & crafts projects, hat decorating, live musical performances, a magic show and a holiday feast. Each child took away gifts for the holidays and, most importantly, hope for the New Year.
Thanks to our many volunteers who came out to help, Harris Teeter for donating the frosting and sprinkles, and the University of Maryland for donating the cookies!
StandUp for Kids DC hosted a School Supplies Drive to benefit homeless and at-risk youth in six D.C. public schools with large populations of homeless and at-risk students. SUFK volunteers put boxes in their workplaces and apartments to gather distributed donation boxes in various locations around the city to collect donations of notebooks, calculators, backpacks, binders, folders, markers, pens, pencils and other school supplies.
In the first two weeks of August, SUFK volunteers collected a total of 2,306 items with a net value of nearly $3,000. Thanks so much to all of our volunteers who hosted boxes!
Christina Cyphers is a mover and a shaker in life. She was raised as one of 13 adopted children, from all different nationalities. Christie’s “mosaic” upbringing has helped her interact with people from all backgrounds and better understand the challenges of and how to collaborate with our wonderful “melting pot” of beautiful cultures from all walks of life.
Christina is also a motivational speaker and a patient advocate who speaks frequently in her community about the need to be an active participant in one’s own health care. She recently participated in the Agency for Health Quality Research’s “Questions are the Answers” Campaign and is an active advocate for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, American Heart Association and EmpowHer.
Christina comes to SUFK with a professional background in juvenile corrections and youth programming. She has a truly unique passion and way of communicating with today’s youth that reinforces SUFK’s vision and mission.
With politicians clamoring and hammering over federal debt, it’s very possible to forget who hangs in the balance.
As you know, the government is in charge of dispersing various funds for runaway and homeless youth programs (RHYPs). These include programs that fund street outreach, youth shelters, and transitional living under the Department of Health and Human Services, and educational protections and services under the Department of Education.
Many youth advocates are pressing for legislators to carve out $135 million in Fiscal Year 2012 for some RHYPs - an increase of $14M from Obama's request - in order to address the needs of domestically trafficked and sexually exploited youth, fund a comprehensive incidence and prevalence study of youth homelessness nationally, and expand the availability of transitional housing.
Appropriations subcommittees will likely begin drafting their FY 2012 funding bills over the August recess and will put the finishing touches on the bills when Congress returns in September. It's not yet clear how much the debt deal will affect homeless programs; however, we know that 2012's budget is $7 billion less than the current year and nearly $100 billion less than what Obama asked for. While we're hoping for more, we may get much less. Homeless youth advocates will have a lot of work to do to preserve and even increase funding.
One of the major bills introduced this year on behalf of homeless youth is Senator John Kerry’s “Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act” (S. 961). Kerry is touting the bill for several reasons. Some of the provisions would allow children to remain in foster care until at least their 21st birthday, fund more transitional living programs, expand young people’s access to temporary aid payments, and demonstrate the effectiveness of family reunification for LGBT homeless youth. Currently, the bill has been sent to committee for discussion.
If you're interested in policy and advocacy around youth homelessness, ask us for ways to get involved!
At Food & Friends on May 27, eight StandUp volunteers helped assemble several hundred pre-prepared meals to send out to individuals and families experiencing life-challenging diseases. Alex, Amber, Jaleesa, Kali, Lindsay, Natherine, Nicole, and Stephanie put in three hours of hard work to make sure hundreds of families had nutritious and delicious food that week.
The volunteers pictured at right continued the good work at the Capital Area Food Bank on June 4, bagging meals for more than a thousand at-risk youth in the DC metro area.Thanks to everyone who came out for your hard work! If you’d like to help StandUp plan its next service partnership, email Jennifer at JenniferM@standupforkids.org
StandUp For Kids -
StandUp For Kids is an all volunteer program, so for us to be there for our homeless kids, we need your help! If you or someone you know is interested in getting involved e-mail us.