StandUp For Kids is a national non-profit volunteer outreach organization dedicated to going to the streets and making a difference in the lives of at-risk, homeless and street kids.
StandUp For Kids' outreach counselors will search alleys, abandoned buildings, in the woods, through the brush, along rivers and beaches, caves, and many more places looking for street and homeless kids. Initially, we provide basic necessities such as clothes, hygiene products, and food. Our outreach approach is effective because we don't ask for anything in return. We simply tell kids "we want to help you do what you want to do. What is that?" Or, "if StandUp For Kids could do one thing for you, what would that be?"
The reasons kids leave home are many, but some studies suggest that as many as 90 percent of the youngsters who leave home do so because of child abuse. They have been physically, sexually, or emotionally hurt and taken advantage of. Youngsters who are abused are sometimes afraid to tell anyone they know. Some fear that they will get their abuser in trouble, or will be hurt even more, some are embarrassed; some may have even been told they deserve the abuse. Sometimes leaving home seems like the only answer.
StandUp For Kids believes all kids should have choices when it comes to their personal safety. We know first hand that once on the streets, young people are at even higher risk of being physically and/or sexually victimized, of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol to reduce emotional pain. Some even attempt suicide and often engage in act of "survival" sex to meet their need for food, shelter, and clothing. Thirteen kids die on the streets every day from abuse, disease and suicide. Children aren't living on the streets, they're dying!
Kids are running away at the rate of 1 every minute. In the days that follow, as they continue to flee, they run into many things; drug dealers, pimps, perverts and pedophiles, STD's, and HIV. And, some die! For many, the act of "running away" has become a "crash" of unbelievable proportions, such that recovery from the streets will take months and in some cases years. Our goal is to reach the kids, before they reach that point!
We've come to realize that kids who live on the streets are almost "worn out." They rarely eat properly and are sick most of the time. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are rampant and many kids are forced to do things that place them in the greatest danger of getting AIDS. If you talk to a street kid who has been on the streets for any period of time, they will tell you that after a while, they don't recognize who they have become, and worse yet, they don't care. For them, there is no tomorrow!
StandUp For Kids, which has no political or religious affiliation, has used its network of more than 5,000 volunteers to reach out to homeless and at risk youth for twenty years. We are now conducting street outreach in more than 30 cities.
Through our persistence and dedication, we are able to reach even the hardest "old school" street kids. We're relentless in following up on all leads; we find where the kid's squat, and in some cases, visit them in their "squats" on a regular basis.
In Philadelphia, our counselors so thoroughly scoured the city that we found one "squat" that had been hidden for more than seven years. It is through this kind of persistence, dedication, and real pursuit that significant changes begin to occur for kids who really believe that we've forgotten them. They fell through the crack and that's the end!
We've been recognized by the White House on three occasion, the U.S. Justice Department, Supreme Court Justice member Ruth Bader Ginsburg, been awarded the JCPenney "Golden Rule Award, as well as many other awards and letters of proclamation and commendation.
Get in touch with Rick Koca, the founder of StandUp For Kids, at RickK@standupforkids.org.