Celebrate Peace, Love and Respect with Mario Rocha

June 24 2020

StandUp for Kids - Silicon Valley

Mario has been a role model for over 5 years with StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley.  With his love for all, his desire to teach, educate, and help cultivate a caring, inclusive environment at The Village, the kids come back over and over again looking for support.  He helped build our organization to what it is today.  And in celebration of Pride Month, where we celebrate Peace and Love, we share with you Mario and his journey for the need to volunteer. 

"This time last year I was in New York City celebrating PRIDE month and the 50th Anniversary of the Stone Wall Riots. Never in a million years did I think I would be living through a new movement for justice against hatred, yet here we are. PRIDE month has always been such a great time of the year for me, where folks from all walks of life would come together to celebrate peace, love, and respect which are three fundamental values I live my life by. However, with the current state of the country it left me with lots of time to reflect on my own personal journey that has led me to become the community activist I am today. 

Growing up being judged and discriminated against for my sexual orientation has definitely made life difficult, especially as a youth. All through out my schooling I was teased, harassed, and physically assaulted for my “gay” mannerisms. It got to a point where in middle school I contemplated suicide at the age of 12, but wasn’t able to go through with it because of the love of my family and friends. From that day on I vowed to myself I would always lead my life with peace, love, and respect. 

I then started to volunteer regularly on the weekend through high school. I found that volunteering fed my soul in a way that I could not get from tangible and monetary items. I eventually ended up at StandUp for Kids and have been here for 6 years now. People often ask why I have stayed with the program and I always tell them it’s because I can be here to teach the youth how to respect and love people, especially those who are different from ourselves. I have received hugs from some of the “toughest” guys out there that most people would cross the street from. I have also been able to be a support to the LGBTQ+ youth who come through our doors. I will always tell them my story and ensure them that loving themselves will allow them to prevail through anything and anyone’s opinion of them. It’s these moments with the youth that keep me coming back year after year.

Now is the time to be a volunteer to help give back to others because the world needs more people leading their lives with love, and volunteering is a way to help do that."

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