Why I StandUp!
April 8 2020
StandUp for Kids - Silicon Valley
Meet Kristin Taylor, one of our dedicated, caring volunteers making a difference during these times when our kids are even more at risk with COVID-19. She’s our Director of Community Resources, a constant face at our Outreach Center, The Village and works on her steps while conducting street outreach looking for the most vulnerable, our homeless youth in Silicon Valley.
Just about 3 years ago I moved to San Jose after living in Boston my entire life. Shortly after settling in, I wanted to find a volunteer opportunity to get involved in. One fateful day I saw that StandUp For Kids in Silicon Valley was looking for volunteers. I had spent time as a case manager at a family shelter and as a foster home social worker back on the East Coast, and working with youth and families experiencing homelessness was very special to me. I had no idea that this volunteer position would turn into one of the greatest joys of my life.
Homelessness in Boston is unlike what I was introduced to in California. My first time in Oakland I couldn’t believe the amount of tent cities on the sidewalks. As I became involved at The Village, it broke my heart to learn that teenagers and young adults were a huge part of that population. Soon after starting at The Village, I began working for an affordable housing nonprofit. The struggle of finding a place to call home for low-income youth couldn’t have become more real. Each shift I had at The Village I was amazed to see the resilience and motivation of youth to get off the streets. We started to fill out applications for housing and look for apartments and jobs. I started to learn so much about the youth: kids who were bounced from foster home to foster home, who endured trauma and abuse, who traveled up and down California to find a safe place to stay. Kids who were loving, smart, and kind and just needed someone to listen to them.
Whether I serve the youth a meal, remind them of the rules, help look for school or a job, or just relax and laugh- every day is a step in a better direction for each of us. The Village has provided love and support for these youth, and me. Our world has been turned upside down over the last few weeks due to COVID-19, and being able to continue to volunteer weekly at The Village has helped me feel normal and hopeful in a time when no one knows what tomorrow may bring.
The volunteers and youth have become my West Coast family, and I have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve and learn with StandUp For Kids.